Press Release: Simon Fell welcomes inclusion of Furness Line upgrade in Government’s £48 billion rail improvement programme

Simon Fell has welcomed the announcement from the Transport Secretary that the Furness Line is to be included in the largest rail modernisation programme since the Victorian times.

The Transport Secretary confirmed that commuters in Barrow and Furness were to benefit while giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee in Parliament on Wednesday.

Grant Shapps confirmed the government’s commitment to upgrading capacity on the Cumbrian Coast, which will transform local rail services.

The Conservative Government are currently investing a record £48 billion in the nation’s railways – improving reliability and punctuality, upgrading trains and allowing passengers to benefit from quicker, more comfortable journeys.

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

“I am delighted that the Conservatives are prioritising the Furness Line and Cumbrian Coast as part of our plans to upgrade the nations’ railways – this will significantly improve rail services for local people and make a real difference to Furness.

“I have been lobbying hard for the Transport Secretary to prioritise our railways and spoke to him only lat week on the issue. Fast, reliable trains are vital, not just for boosting local growth, but to making areas like ours attractive places to live and start a business.

“For too long we’ve been held back due to poor transport infrastructure. This levelling up of our infrastructure is the start of what I hope will be a major programme of investment in Barrow & Furness’ road and rail capacity. I’m grateful for the Government’s support of Barrow & Furness.”


Making the case for our roads and rail to the Transport Secretary

Last week, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, was kind enough to join me on the campaign trail and spend some time learning about the particular issues which Barrow & Furness faces with regards to infrastructure.

We started our visit at Dove Ford Farm at Grizebeck on the A595, joined by Trudy Harrison, until recently the MP for Copeland. We jointly made the case that several improvements needed making at this site and at several others along the 595. It beggars belief that the main road that many people take when travelling to Moorside goes through a farm. The Transport Secretary pledged to work with us both, and Cumbria County Council, on this issue.

Next, we travelled to Cross-a-Moor on the A590 to meet local residents and discuss the challenges faced on the A590, especially with speeding, heavy traffic, and when accidents occur. Joined by James Airey, Leader of the Conservatives on Cumbria County Council, we discussed options for further dualling of the road, and other options for taking the strain off our major artery.

Finally, under the watchful gaze of the BBC, Chris and I went to Barrow train station. Chris was catching a train to Lancaster for the next stop on his campaign visit so it was an opportune time to discuss the upcoming improvements to the rolling stock on the line, but also the severe problems which commuters face with delayed and cancelled trains. The Transport Secretary pledged to meet with me immediately following the election to discuss these issues in more depth and to work together to resolve them.

Furness is in a unique position - we are geographically isolated and rely on a small number of pieces of vital infrastructure. I would argue that, more than in most areas, we need continued investment in that infrastructure to provide resilience, and certainty, for both commuters and new businesses looking to come to our area.

We badly need someone who can work constructively with the Government, council, transport agencies, and service providers, to get real improvements to our road and rail networks. I very much hope that come June 8th, I get that opportunity.