is an independent project to reopen the Railway between Keswick and Penrith, to provide a much needed transport link into
and out of the northern Lake District. CKP Railways plc was formed in 1998 specifically for this purpose.
It is independent
because Government and the Department of Transport do not normally sponsor railway reopenings – such projects are expected
to be driven by local commercial interests since privatisation in the 1990s.
Local Authorities such as County
Councils (which are usually the Local Transport Authorities) also do not generally undertake such projects as they do not
have the necessary fudning or expertise. They are more likely to provide limited subsidies to existing operations and small
grants for minor improvements.
The local authorities will all benefit from this reopening but do not
have the resources to fund and implement such a project.
There is also no obligation on local authorities to contribute,
but policies at National, Regional and local level exist to protect the trackbeds of former Railways so that they are not
obstructed by development, and remain available for reopening.
This will be a modern Railway,
built to the current standards for main line railways, and will be operated by modern trains to and from other parts of northern
Britain, not just a shuttle between Keswick and Penrith.
It is planned to operate at least an hourly service
from early morning to late night, every day of the week, all year round. This will cater for visitors, local transport needs,
commuting, social and other transport needs in the northern Lake District and help to reconnect West Cumbria to the outside
Based on Tourist Board figures and various independent studies, between 250,000 and 450,000 passengers
are expected to use the service every year. With fares comparable to local bus services, the Railway can cover operating costs
and maintenance and generate returns for further development at these traffic levels.
There are several possible
stages of development from a simple single track Railway (enough for an hourly service) to one with double track, extra stations
and platforms, and capacity for more frequent services, charters, special trains etc.
Benefits to the are will
include reduction of traffic congestion, relief of car parking problems, reduced dependence on cars, improved public transport
network for everyone, major fuel savings, environmental benefits, social and economic boosts by bring communities, businesses
and social facilities over a wide area into closer contact.
Direct employment, supporting services, business opportunities
and increased visitor spending will all assist communities in the area.
No regular freight traffic is expected,
but occasional loads from quarries and forests along the line are possible and could be accommodated without special facilities.