The Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (LMCRP) is looking at the future of The Bentham Line. The Partnership has commissioned a new study to evaluate the use of the line and its potential to development as a trans-pennine route serving communities between Leeds and Bradford and the coast at Morecambe and Heysham via its route that includes Keighley, Skipton, Bentham and Lancaster. This is the first such study to be commissioned by a Community Rail Partnership in the country.
The partnership has commissioned Stantec UK Ltd., together with Allen Rail, to undertake the Bentham Line study.
Stantec project manager, Steven Reid said: “We are delighted to be working on this exciting project to establish a long-term vision and options for the future development of the Bentham Line. We understand that this is the first piece of work of its kind to be let by a Community Rail Partnership and it provides an opportunity to develop a community-led approach to enhancing the offer on this historic line”.
David Prescott, director at Allen Rail, added: “I am delighted to be working with Stantec on the Bentham Line project, as I was responsible for the line when I was Regional Railways’ Marketing Manager at York in the late 1980s. At that time, we developed Line Guide leaflets with partner organisations. So I feel a personal link over the years and I am pleased to be back.”
David Alder, treasurer of the LMCRP, who has undertaken a lot of the preliminary work for this project, said: “The timing of this work also fits well with the worldwide concerns about global warming and associated environmental attitudes on fuel use.”
This is a community orientated study and Gerald Townson, LMCRP chair, said: “A vital part of the study will involve obtaining the views; of both existing and potential stakeholders, of communities on and near the line and of individuals. If you have a genuine interest in public transport and in particular the Bentham line, and would like to see the route fulfil its true potential, then we would be pleased to hear from you. Use the links at the end of this article to offer us your thoughts”.
The LMCRP has been successful in obtaining two substantial grants from the Community Rail Network, the umbrella body for Community Rail Partnerships, and from the Seed Corn Fund administered by Northern Trains Ltd. This has been supplemented by funding and resources made available by the CRP itself. The funding also reflects the support of Transport for the North and the Department for Transport.
Carolyn Watson, director of stakeholder and community engagement at Northern, commented: “Our customers are at the heart all we do, and we always welcome opportunities to talk about potential improvements which would make a positive impact for them and the communities we serve. We are pleased to be able to help fund the study and now look forward to future conversations to explore the outcomes of the study”.
Ian Davis for Community Rail Network said “We are delighted to be able to help fund this innovative bid for a forward thinking community rail partnership.”
Rod Tickner, vice-chair of the LMCRP added: ”This study encompasses the whole length from coast through the country to the city. We want to champion its use as an alternative trans-pennine rail link. Already, it is used by many passengers for leisure journeys and by many university and college students travelling between North and West Yorkshire and North Lancashire and South Cumbria, and vice versa, but we believe that there are untapped markets for travel in both directions”.
The LMCRP welcomes contributions from stakeholders, interested parties and individuals along the length of the Bentham Line. Our public survey can be accessed directly by scanning the QR code below.
Please look at the CRP website thebenthamline.co.uk for more details, and information is posted on social media. The CRP can be contacted at the Station Building, Bentham, LA2 7LF.