Cumbria Tourism has described a decision to conduct disruptive engineering works on the West Coast Mainline over two weeks during the school summer holidays as nonsensical.
The West Coast Mainline will close for 16 days from 20 July to 4 August 2019 near Warrington, meaning many train services will be diverted via alternative routes. Network Rail have advised that some passengers may also need to change onto a different train or a bus for a section of their journey.
As Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism says the timing of the work is – yet again – a major blow for the county’s £2.9billion visitor economy and its Managing Director is calling for a rethink.
Gill Haigh says, “This news is a shock and totally unacceptable for tourism businesses.
“Following last year’s disruption, we are already in the midst of a major £285,000 marketing campaign – funded by the rail industry – to rebuild people’s confidence in rail services and to inspire potential visitors to travel by train. This high-profile campaign has already had to be delayed numerous times, due to strikes and then closures at London Euston over Easter and the May Bank Holidays. Following our complaints about the Easter disruption, we were assured that Network Rail would take our views on board and help mitigate against further disruption. However, this does not appear to be the case.
“Cumbria Tourism will now be writing to Network Rail, along with the Secretary of State for Transport, Transport for the North and our local MPs, urging them to look into this issue as a matter of urgency.”
Vice Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker adds, “Whilst we are aware that maintenance of the network needs to be carried out once again, there appears to be no regard for the impact on tourism as part of the planning process. The school summer holidays are the busiest time of year for tourism operators and following the previous issues with train services last summer, less frequent longer journeys are the last thing they need.
“If passengers are now being told to expect longer, busier journeys for more than two weeks during the peak holiday season, this is simply not acceptable.”