The Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has released a summary of a development study into how the healthy growth of the Bentham Line over the last twenty years can be sustained.
The Bentham Line is the working title for the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP) which has its offices at Bentham station and works to improve services and develop community links along the line.
The route goes from Heysham and Morecambe, via Lancaster and Carnforth to Skipton, Keighley, and Leeds, and links the West Coast main line at Lancaster with the East Coast main line at Leeds.
The study was carried out by consultants Stantec and AllanRail. It covers all aspects of the line from Leeds to Morecambe, including local services between Lancaster and Morecambe; interaction with other routes, including the Settle to Carlisle line, the Airedale electric service, and connections to Cumbria and beyond.
A number of key themes are highlighted in the summary::
- the possibilities for early decarbonisation of the Lancaster to Morecambe section, battery technology, and low-cost electrification;
- opportunities to increase the services with a longer operating day;
- the importance of the line for both its connection possibilities and new through and faster services;
- specific targeting relating to the demand for active leisure and tourism travel, including the proposed Eden North Project in Morecambe.
Gerald Townson, CRP chairman, said “I am delighted by the large number of stakeholders and individuals who have engaged with the consultants; the thorough and thoughtful approach adopted by Stantec and AllanRail and by the variety of options identified for future development.”
Stantec Project Director Stephen Canning stated
“The Bentham Line Strategy was different as it involved undertaking a community-led and first principles review of the entire line from Heysham Port and Morecambe in the west to Leeds in the east. It was not focused on making the case for a single specific outcome, rather on defining how the Bentham Line can best meet the needs of the communities it serves and expand its appeal to visitors to Lancashire and Yorkshire.
“The final Executive Summary and Report are flexible documents that provide a basis both for pursuing and implementing short-term actions by the Leeds – Morecambe Community Rail Partnership and a community-based expression of aspirations to feed into wider railway industry planning.”
The CRP is now looking forward to further substantial engagement with the rail industry, local councils, and other stakeholders, to bring the aspirations evoked by the study to fruition.
The executive summary may be viewed and downloaded here.