LASRUG – the Lancaster & Skipton Rail Users Group – was founded in 1991 to campaign for a speedy improvement of the service. The Lancashire and North Yorkshire County Councils with others set up a Joint Action Group, and Regional Railways North East showed its commitment by sponsoring a Development Group and a Promotions Group for the line. (These are now merged with those for the Settle-Carlisle.) In 1995 the weekday timetable was re-cast, with one additional train each way.
For half the year there were still only two Sunday trains each way, both in the afternoon/evening. This timetable was inherited by the first private operator, MTL, and is the one still operated by Arriva Trains Northern. The Development Group agreed to prepare an application for funding for three additional Monday-to Saturday trains each way, under the new Rail Passenger Partnership scheme. Consultants produced an encouraging report, and the bid was submitted in 1999. Unfortunately we are still waiting for the extra trains. The new Northern Rail Franchise commenced on 12 December 2004 and we hope that the new franchisee (Serco-Ned Railways) will seek to develop the line’s services in accordance with our aspirations. Up to the difficulties of 2002, passenger numbers had been growing steadily.
The Promotions Group, in conjunction with the Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Company, publishes a colourful timetable and line guide twice each year, and with the Train Operating Company sponsors the Dales Railcard, which has encouraged many people in the rural areas to use the trains. The Leeds-Morecambe/Settle-Carlisle Partnership has succeeded the Development Group, and brings together representatives of local authorities, tourism agencies, the Train Operator, Network Rail, user groups and others.
Many people are working hard to promote the line and to improve its services. We look forward to a prosperous and encouraging future for the line which is steeped in history and which has served our area well for the past 150 years. The Line to the Sea On 1st June 1850 the first train ran from Leeds through to the new harbour at Poulton-le-Sands, on the south side of Morecambe Bay. Alongside the port a new holiday resort was created, and a seaside home for wealthy industrialists.
Read this interesting article by Gerald Townson and John Bearpark, that featured in the Craven Herald – click here to download the article.