The case for a new Railway

CAN IT PAY?

WHO DOES WHAT?

MONEY MATTERS

WHO OWNS WHAT?

START UP COSTS

WHY BUILD A RAILWAY?

STATISTICS


CAN IT PAY?

Between 250,000 and 450,000 passengers per annum are expected and market research in Keswick suggests that even higher figures are possible with an all day, every day service. A Train Operator would cover costs and make some profit. The line could be properly maintained and staffed and generate funds for further development and extensions.

The Post Office in Keswick undertook a survey through their magazine "Kesmail" which is delivered to every address in the Keswick postal area. The results prove that people in Keswick want a high quality rail link and want to travel far and wide on a regular basis - a fact which seems to come as a surprise to many outside the area. The most popular destinations beyond Penrith are London, Carlisle, Manchester (City and Airport), Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Some also mentioned destinations in Europe. More than half would want to travel at least once or twice a week with one fifth on a daily basis and a high proportion said the service should run at the same times seven days a week - early morning and late evening services were important to a good proportion. Trips would be made mainly for shopping, leisure, essential trips and business with some on commuting and school/college journeys. A full analysis is being developed but initial calculations suggest that Keswick Residents alone (i.e. excluding visitors) would make more journeys than the County Council's adviser's most optimistic assessment of total demand for the service (72,000).

Over half the people in the Keswick area who responded to our survey said that they would probably invest in the railway - the strongest possible indication of the need for the line !

The Government's Transport White Paper published in July 1998 set a target of a 10% reduction in road traffic for all parts of the country. The railway can absorb much more traffic than this without occupying any new land. Road traffic is still growing at an annual rate of about 1.5% and has grown in total by 500% since 1956 when mass closures of railways were first planned (Government statistics). People want to travel more and more every year.

One of the biggest obstacles has been the attitude of some managers in the railway industry who do not know Keswick but believe the statistics produced in the 1960s to justify closure. An analysis carried out by the last Station Master at Keswick showed that the presence of Keswick on the national network drew revenue from all over the country which more than covered the costs of operating the service from Penrith - but the Public Inquiry panel had been instructed to use less complete information and endorsed the closure proposal.

The Rural Development Commission noted in 1998 that 80% of rural areas in Cumbria had no daily bus services. Rebuilding the rail link makes it possible for more people to make more journeys without cars and stimulates demand for public transport in general.

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MONEY MATTERS

Transport Operators in the Lake District have previously tended only to serve visitors within the area as they heavily outnumber residents. The real unsatisfied need is for all day, every day travel into and out of the National Park and the northern parts in particular. This railway is planned to provide a service for travel to work, education, leisure, appointments, shopping etc. and creates links with the whole of the UK and Europe.

The total estimated cost of the project to rebuild the line and allow a regular passenger service to operate is around £25 million, which at first sight seems expensive, but represents excellent value as a transport project to carry hundreds of thousands of passengers every year. £25 million represents less than £5,000 for each resident, or as little as £5 for each visitor in a typical year as a one-off cost to put Keswick permanently back on the rail network.

£25 million would only build one mile of motorway, or three miles of new "A" road, neither of which tackle the fundamental problem that Keswick can not cope with the traffic already on the roads. £25 million is one quarter of the price of a new Jumbo Jet. For Keswick and the Lake District to thrive, solutions other than roads are needed and this line has the ability to allow visitor numbers to double while releasing capacity on the roads for those in the area who really need to use them.

The Lake District National Park owns the bridges between Keswick and Threlkeld and in its Property Plan for the "Keswick Railway Footpath" admits it can not afford even to paint these bridges without sponsorship, so their long term safety and security is doubtful. Ownership by the National Park has saved these bridges so far but the only long term future for this route is as a railway, earning the necessary income to pay for its upkeep. The Railway Footpath can be re-routed and this has been built into the project costing.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has been less than enthusiastic, raising technical objections to the commercial nature of the scheme but not doubting its viability. The Millennium Commission judged this project eligible but did not allocate any funds, rejecting the Railway's bid when it decided to fund the Millennium Dome.

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START UP COSTS.

The total cost of the project up to the stage when the first trains can run has been estimated between £20 million and £25 million by various people - for the first stage detailed designs have to be produced, use of land arranged and legal powers granted by the Government. These processes require costly specialized advice, but there are no short cuts. Discussion with an experienced Civil Engineering company suggests that the following costs are likely:

Detailed mapping and surveys of the proposed route £5,000 to £10,000

Production of drawings and technical reports £75,000 to £90,000

Environmental Impact studies and reports £100,000 to £150,000

Drafting of applications and legal support work £100,000 to £150,000


Also to be considered:

Land acquisition or negotiations including legal work £200,000 to £500,000

Therefore the costs incurred before the Government can grant permission to build the line could exceed half a million pounds, but as a proportion of £25 million this is not high. Much of the final construction can be funded by existing organizations who would receive returns once trains are running. There are also Grants and other funds which can help pay for replacement, earthworks, track, signaling and repairing structures. Railtrack are willing to fund the Junction and station access arrangements at Penrith. Local Authorities including the National Park do not have funds for projects on this scale, but their support can be crucial.

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STATISTICS

The new line will have:

Over 18 miles of new track.

9 river bridges between Keswick and Threlkeld.

2 large stone viaducts (Mosedale and Penruddock)

47 other bridges under the line.

18 bridges over the line.

35 culverts (water courses under the line).

2 tunnels.


All the major bridges still standing are in good condition. A few minor bridges carrying the line are in poor condition or have been demolished to allow greater headroom for road traffic - these can all be replaced with modern structures which do not restrict road users.

The A66 between Troutbeck and Penruddock will be crossed by a completely new bridge over the road.

Both tunnels exist, the one nearer to Keswick is complete but the other has been landscaped over since construction of the A66. A similar tunnel was recently re-opened on the "Robin Hood"

CKP Railways plc is the Company formed to manage the line once it is operational. The line will be independent from Railtrack but will be connected into their national network. Baines Wilson (Commercial lawyers) in Carlisle have provided help and advice at various stages.

The Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB have provided guidance on investment issues.

Progress is being reported locally and nationally by various newspapers, railway magazines and more general publications such as "Cumbria" magazine and "Cumbria Life". BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC North (TV) and Border TV have been keen to broadcast features at critical times - with tremendous results.

Project management (keeping all these strands coordinated and directing the whole scheme) is being provided by Cedric Martindale, Director of Iceni Enterprises Ltd. in Carlisle. He is a Chartered Engineer and Transport Specialist with nearly twenty years railway experience.

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WHO DOES WHAT?

CKP Railways plc is the Company formed to manage the line once it is operational. The line will be independent from Railtrack but will be connected into their national network. As a public limited company (plc) it can make investment offers direct to the public, enter into commercial agreements with existing businesses and hold the necessary authorizations from regulatory bodies to operate a public service railway.

Railtrack own and operate the national network. They will be responsible for the new junction at Penrith and will provide access to the station for trains to and from Keswick.

Northern Spirit have supported this project from very early on and are the operator best placed to run regular services between Keswick, Penrith and a number of useful destinations in the north. As a national network operator their services will appear in all national timetables and through tickets will be available to and from any station.

Corus Rail (formerly British Steel Track Products) have put together the framework of a project covering detailed design and all the necessary legal applications.

Legal work for the Bond issue has been carried out by Eversheds at Newcastle.

Dodd and Co. (Accountants) and Baines Wilson (Commercial lawyers) in Carlisle have provided help and advice at various stages.

The Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB have provided guidance on investment issues.

Progress is being reported locally and nationally by various newspapers, railway magazines and more general publications such as "Cumbria" magazine and "Cumbria Life". BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC North (TV) and Border TV have been keen to broadcast features at critical times - with tremendous results.

Project management (keeping all these strands coordinated and directing the whole scheme) is being provided by Cedric Martindale, Director of Iceni Enterprises Ltd. in Carlisle. He is a Chartered Engineer and Transport Specialist with nearly twenty years railway experience.

Many enthusiastic supporters in Keswick and further afield act as watchdogs for developments or opportunities.

Everyone individual or organization directly involved with this project has been chosen because they have some connection with Keswick or the Lake District and want to see the project succeed.

Virgin Trains and Chiltern Trains do not expect to operate trains to Keswick but have provided support and shown interest in the way this project could lead to the development of other new lines. Bus and boat operators in the Lake District can be encouraged to have joint ticketing arrangements to make travel throughout the area as simple as possible. Some such schemes already exist.

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WHO OWNS WHAT?

Keswick station belongs to Allerdale Borough and is leased to Principal Hotels. The trackbed from Keswick to Threlkeld is owned or leased by the Lake District National Park Authority and carries the "Railway Footpath" - this is the only part of the line which is open to the public.

The trackbed from Threlkeld to Penrith Junction is all in private hands or remains the responsibility of the British Railways Board (mostly bridges). There is no public access to any of this land but much of it can be seen from public roads and footpaths.

Most of the landowners have been identified and some negotiations are in hand to buy or lease sections of the trackbed as they become available.

The British Railways Board (BRB) has advertised its land and the viaducts at Mosedale and Penruddock for sale via Rail Property Ltd. (RPL), on Government instructions. CKP Railways plc has registered a "transport interest" in all relevant sections and this has produced an encouraging response. Under the Government's rules this should take precedence over any other action. In 1995 there was a threat to demolish the viaducts - this has not entirely disappeared but the BRB now recognizes that this is a "sensitive" subject and now has "no plans" to dispose of them.

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WHY BUILD A RAILWAY?

In 1961 a report for the Lake District Planning Board stated that Keswick was being isolated by lack of connections at Penrith and that failure to modernize or publicize the line was creating an inefficient and unattractive service. The authors concluded that a modernized railway was the long term solution although replacement by buses "with trailers for luggage" was a cheaper but less satisfactory alternative due to the failure of operators to work together.

The 1961 report concluded that closure of the railway would reduce Keswick's visitor numbers by 28% (nearly twice the number coming by train) and cause long term decline. The consequences can be clearly seen today - now is the time to undo the damage!

Modern trains provide transport for people with heavy luggage, cycles, prams, wheelchairs etc. which buses simply can not handle - vehicles accessible to these people are easier for everybody to use. People forced to use cars to get to work are less likely to use public transport for other journeys.

There have been suggestions that a light rail, tramway, narrow gauge or "preserved" line would be cheaper and easier to build. These are false economies due to the enormous additional costs acquiring and maintaining rolling stock and problems gaining access to Penrith Station. Without that access the line will not reduce the area's traffic problems. A "heavy rail" scheme as proposed can carry excursion traffic and support "park and ride" schemes, perhaps using light rail vehicles; a light rail system can not carry main line passenger trains or freight - it would be of very limited use. Through-ticketing and nation-wide advertising would not be guaranteed.

The new line would be built between Keswick and Penrith but would actually create links with the whole of Mainland Europe and international airports as well as the rest of the UK.

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