Battle to save direct Lancaster to London trains

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Lancaster rail travellers may get a clearer picture on the future of direct trains to London later this year and whether they face the axe.

Fears arose that the controversial high-speed HS2 network could end the city’s status on the current inter-city West Coast Mainline between London and Scotland.

City councillors are due for an update on Lancaster train services at the next full council meeting on Wednesday April 27.

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The city council raised objections earlier this year when it discovered Lancaster could be removed as a routine ‘stopping station’ on the current West Coast Mainline to allow for future HS2 services, which would not actually stop in Lancaster.

Lancaster Railway Station.Lancaster Railway Station.
Lancaster Railway Station.

It was feared that Lancaster rail passengers would need to catch one train to Preston and another to London.

Councillors said the idea flew in the face of ambitions for convenient, connected railway services and greener travel.

They also said the cities of Lancaster and Preston could end up competing with each other for national rail links, needed to maintain their profiles and attract businesses, investment and tourism. City councillors wanted to avoid this happening.

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Green councillor Gina Dowding, a member of the city council’s cabinet with a planning, places and transport role, said: “The council continues to influence transport policy at national and regional levels.

"Officers have been lobbying to ensure Lancaster is a ‘stopping station’ for HS2 services.

“A national HS2 Assumptions Report from 2020 had indicated Lancaster would not be served by direct HS2 trains.

"However, an updated HS2 Strategic Outline Business Case from earlier this year indicates all options now include Lancaster as a stopping station.”

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But she adds: “Lobbying will continue through 2022-23 when train service patterns are clearer.

"Alongside local partners, such as Lancaster Civic Vision , officers have lobbied for retention of late evening train services between Lancaster and Manchester.

"Details of the new level of service are to be issued shortly.”

In other transport news, Coun Dowding is due to highlight road improvement work with Lancashire County Council on major proposals.

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These include a Lancaster city centre movement and public spaces plan.

Public consultation on improving Lancaster’s ‘gyratory’ road system, including changes to bus routes, is due later this year, she states.

Lancaster City Council meets at Morecambe Town Hall on April 27 at 6pm.