Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Could Morecambe trains Go Electric again?

An electric train at Morecambe Promenade station in 1964.
Photo, featured in
"Little" North Western Railway, courtesy Martin Bairstow.
Used with permission

The possibility of the Morecambe line being included in the proposed North West Railway Electrification Scheme was raised at the City Council meeting earlier this month.

Conservative Councillor Richard Rollins (Heysham South) asked Councillor Blamire, Leader of the Council, whether the City was taking any steps to ensure the short stretch of line from the West Coast Mainline to Morecambe was included in the programme. Councillor Blamire advised that transport was an issue normally dealt with by the Lancashire County Council but agreed that local pressure would also be necessary to ensure progress. She agreed to investigate the possibility of setting up a working group.

Morecambe Promenade Station in 1933. Via this web site
Late last year, the Conservative government announced it was scaling back previously-announced expansion to various electrification schemes (see Parliamentary PDF here), but it did annouce plans to proceed with the electrification of the lines between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool at an estimated cost of some £300 million, with work scheduled to be completed by 2016.

"I expect that the first electric trains will start running in 2013 and the project will be
completed by 2016 at an estimated cost of up to £300 million," Railways Minister, Theresa
Villiers, said back in February. "This will be funded using the Network Rail Regulated Asset Base, which is financed as part of the five yearly determinations by the Office of Rail Regulation that establishes the grant paid to Network Rail by the Department [of Transport]."

Councillor Rollins feels that if a new electric service replaced the current irregular and, at peak hours, overcrowded diesel service between Morecambe and Lancaster, more capacity would be available and a regular reliable service could ease inter urban road congestion. The connection would also open up the possibility of through services to Manchester and other destinations on the electrified rail network.

He told the Full Council meeting that the distance to be electrified was little more than two miles - part of which had in the past already been used by an electric rail service. In rail terms, he argued, the work could be carried out a moderate cost but provide great benefits to the area.

EMU with diamond type pantograph leaving Green Ayre Station in 1965. Via this web site
Morecambe was of course, once home to a pioneering electric train service, run by the Little North Western Railway company, its line including what is now the Lancaster-Morecambe cycle path. The line was closed after the Beeching Report declared it unviable in the 1960s.

Morecambe Branch Line history (Wikipedia)

Network Rail: Electrification Page

The "Little" North Western Railway by Martin Bairstow details the history of this line 

Railways around Lancaster in Morecambe in 1913, Railway Clearing House

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