News of major rail disruption on the West Coast mainline over the Easter weekend – coupled with continuing strikes on TransPennine Express (TPE) routes – is a double blow for Cumbria’s recovering tourism industry, according to the county’s official Destination Management Organisation.
Cumbria Tourism says it is dismayed to hear confirmation that Network Rail will be carrying out significant works on sections of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Scotland from 15 to 18 April, causing major disruption on what will be the first full Easter break for tourism operators since 2019.
Separately, there will also be continuing strike action on TPE routes due to industrial action by the RMT on 16 and 17 April, with a very small number of trains in operation
Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker, says, “Following two years of lockdown over the important Easter period, tourism operators have been gearing up for the start of the visitor season with growing optimism that things are finally beginning to return to normal.
“From the perspective of an industry that is trying to bounce back from a tremendously challenging couple of years, it is so disappointing that Network Rail have chosen this key Bank Holiday Weekend to prevent rail travel!
“It’s doubly frustrating because we have been seeing growing interest in the Lake District, Cumbria, from staycationers in the South East. Rail travel is an integral part of our sustainable transport offer for these audiences and as the county’s Destination Management Organisation, we have been working hard with partners like Northern, Stagecoach and Avanti to encourage people back onto public transport following the COVID restrictions.
“We also know that rail commuter travel has dropped due to the pandemic and leisure passengers will have an increasingly important role to play in the future. Creating another barrier for potential visitors is a real setback in terms of shaping longer-term behaviours around sustainable transport choices.”
He adds, “The issues on the West Coast mainline are further exacerbated by driver shortages and the continuing disruption we’re already seeing on the TransPennine Express network. We hope this dispute can be resolved quickly to limit further disruption.”