Council bosses to meet government minister over fears Lancaster could lose direct inter-city trains to London

Lancaster City Council is to meet a Government railways minister over fears about the loss of direct inter-city trains to London caused by potential changes brought about by high-speed HS2 train timetables.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 3:45 pm
Lancaster City Council is campaigning to keep direct inter-city train services to and from London after fears were raised that southbound direct trains could be stopped to enable future HS2 timetables.

The city council also wants to clarify that it has the right to petition Parliament about the issue. This is because no engineering or construction work for high-speed services is proposed for Lancaster station. However, the impact on any changes to train services would be felt by Lancaster rail travellers.

Lancaster City Council is campaigning to keep direct inter-city train services to and from London after fears were raised that southbound direct trains could be stopped to enable future HS2 timetables.

Southbound travellers from Lancaster would need to catch one train to Preston then another to London, the city council understands. Councillors have emphasised they wants to keep London-bound trains calling a both Lancaster and Preston in future and avoid any competition between the two cities for direct London trains.

At the latest full meeting of Lancaster City Council, Green councillor Caroline Jackson, who is leader of the council, presented an update on city council activities surrounding the potential impact of high-speed HS2 developments.

Her written report stated: “Following the serious concern raised by both officers and members (councillors) that the most recently published plans for HS2 did not show a direct service to London, a meeting was offered by HS2 Ltd. The meeting provided more detail on the way services are envisaged to work in Phase 2 and into the process by which the necessary parliamentary bill will progress.

“We will need to petition parliament regarding our loss of services, but doubt was expressed about whether we could do this when no work was being done at Lancaster station. We are now setting up a meeting with the minister for High-Speed Rail.

She added: “Many thanks to all officers and members from all parties for your hard work and determination to support our residents.”

The Minister for High-Speed Rail is Andrew Stephenson MP.

In September, the city council raised fears that Lancaster rail passengers could be faced with travelling to Preston in future to catch high-speed trains to London , because of potential new HS2 timetables.

Lancaster’s current position as a regular ‘stopping station’ is not guaranteed, the council understands. Some trains travelling north to Scotland might stop at Lancaster but some trains travelling south to London might not.

As a result, the city council agreed to draw-up a plan for lobbying activity to ensure all London-bound inter-city trains continue stopping at Lancaster.

Councillors believe direct inter-city trains to and from London are essential for customer convenience, green travel, Lancaster’s economy and its status as an important, well-connected city on the West Coast Mainline.

The high-speed HS2 project was proposed in phases with brand new rail lines travelling as far north as Crewe, Manchester and Leeds. North of Crewe, no new HS2 tracks are proposed. New high-speed trains would travel on the existing, traditional West Coast Mainline tracks north to Preston, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The HS2 project is split onto phases. Phase 1 is from London Euston to the West Midlands and is due to open between 2029 and 2033. Phase 2A will connect the West Midlands to Crewe and trains could be running there between 2029 and 2033.

Phase 2B moves to northern England and is more complicated. The original plans involved separate western and eastern lines from Crewe to Manchester and Leeds. However recent reports have suggested the link to Leeds could be shortened or scrapped by the Government because of costs, with Leeds offered a tram network instead.

Some critics say HS2 is unnecessary and will only create slightly shorter journeys to London. Some say east-west Trans-Pennine lines across the north of England should be invested in and expanded. However, supporters of HS2 say it would free-up older railway lines which are currently congested with freight and passenger trains.