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Rail Minister welcomed along the Bentham Line

Rail Minister Huw Merriman MP has visited the Bentham Line as part of his Summer Rail Tour.

The Minister was warmly welcomed to Skipton Station on Thursday 17 August by Gerald Townson, Chair of the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP).

The Partnership is accredited by the Department of Transport in support of its work with communities, stakeholders and rail bodies along the length of the line between Leeds and Heysham Port.

Gerald and other members of the team were pleased to be able to share with the Minister the many positive examples of community rail projects that have successfully engaged different diverse communities along the line and encouraged people to choose rail as a greener, more sustainable form of travel.

Several projects, including the national award-winning ‘Dementia and Community Rail’, have had a nationwide effect and encouraged other community rail partnerships and train operating companies to adopt and develop aspects of the initiative to improve access to the railway for those with additional needs, especially those with hidden disabilities.

The Minister was also pleased to hear about the work the CRP team has embarked upon with young people, from primary school children all the way up to university students. Such projects include the ongoing ‘Sheep on the Line’ rail safety campaign and the ‘Access for All’ and ‘Destination Wellbeing’ promotions developed with Northern’s ‘Year in Industry’ students. The Minister praised the recent ‘Rail to Sail’ project, developed for Heysham Port to coincide with the introduction of the new vessel ‘Manxman’ by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and reflected on the high quality of artwork produced for the station and terminal.

During the visit, the Minister was presented with a copy of the ‘Bentham Line Development Strategy to 2042’, which was published by the Partnership last year. The report gives careful thought to the Eden Project Morecambe and a ‘greener’ approach to the development of rail services on the Bentham Line between Lancaster and Morecambe and the associated infrastructure to complement the project, which opens in 2026.

At the end of his visit, the Minister extended his sincere thanks to the Partnership team for their unstinting work in support of all aspects of the Community Rail Strategy, their far-reaching endeavours to make the Bentham Line a route for everyone, and their ongoing work to provide access to the railway for all.

Community rail partnerships and station groups have featured prominently on the Minister’s Summer Rail Tour agenda. Click here to read more about each of the visits.

Keep up to date with future news, projects, and events from the Leeds-Morecambe CRP via their website.