On track for faster rail travel

Lancaster Railway Station.
Lancaster Railway Station.

Commuters from Lancaster will enjoy shorter journey times to London and the south when the country’s new high speed rail link is built, the government’s transport minister has said.

The plans could also benefit Carnforth station, according to Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris.

Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, responded to questions from MPs in parliament on Monday, after announcing new stations in the north as part of Phase 2 of its £32bn project.

He took a question from MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Eric Ollerenshaw.

Mr Ollerenshaw said: “When it comes to the impact of High Speed 2 on Lancaster and the rest of the North West...the Secretary of State was saying that high-speed trains from London to Manchester would enter the West Coast Main Line just above Wigan, stopping at Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Glasgow, so that we in Lancaster will therefore also get shorter journey times.”

Mr McLoughlin, conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales, responded: “Shorter journey times to Lancaster will certainly be a result and a benefit for his constituents.”

The pledge came after speculation last year that Lancaster could be removed as a stop on the West Coast Main Line as part of a big shake up on the country’s rail network.

Construction of Phase 1 - the London to West Midlands route - of the HS2, is expected to begin around 2017, subject to approvals.

Phase 2, which will link Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds, and will see journey times between London and Manchester reduced to one hour eight minutes, is in the early stages of development, with the final route to be chosen by the end of next year.

Trains could be running by 2032.

The project has been met with both optimism and criticism, with many saying it will destroy swathes of green belt, and costs too much to build.

But Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris welcomed Monday’s announcement.

He said: “The plans for HS2 sound ambitious, when HS2 is operational there is no doubt it will significantly speed up journey times from the North West.

“I hope freeing up the West Coast mainline and the fact that HS2 will continue at normal speed North of Wigan will mean increased connectivity with Carnforth Station.

“I will continue to campaign for increased connectivity to Carnforth.”

Mr Ollerenshaw is due to meet representatives from Network Rail at Lancaster railway station to discuss improvements at the station.