MARK Jenkinson MP has welcomed the announcement of a multi-million pound investment in Cumbria’s rail network – something he has been fighting for since before his election.
The Prime Minister has announced a £36-billion package of transport infrastructure upgrades across the North, with his constituency set to be among the major beneficiaries.
The Government has decided not to press on with the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 to concentrate investment on rail links across the north.
Mark Jenkinson MP, a self-confessed “HS2 sceptic”, said the money would be better spent on improving local transport links – a case has been making since he was Deputy Leader of Allerdale Borough Council.
He said: “I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet what this for areas like Cumbria: this investment is huge. We are talking about an investment of many multi millions of pounds – possibly in the region of hundreds of millions of pounds for this area alone.
“My constituency will be the beneficiary of upgrades to the Energy Coast Line that runs from Barrow right up through the Workington to Carlisle.
“This is nothing short of a revolution on transport infrastructure that will see billions of pounds redirected from spiralling HS2 costs to build the daily connections that people rely on.
“I came into Parliament as an HS2 sceptic. The benefits to the Workington could not realty be seen – and I remember saying to Boris Johnson that taking five minutes off a journey to Carlisle would give us much more than 15 minutes off a trip to London.
“When I was deputy leader of Allerdale Borough Council under a Conservative administration, Boris Johnson gave us £8m to build a business case for upgrades to the Cumbrian Coast Railway Line, also known as the Energy Coast Line.
“I have been pushing for this package of upgrades since before I became an MP – and I have been campaigning for it for several years now.
“I know that Cumberland Council has already been invited to meetings with officials from the Department for Transport.
“We hear our council shouting up for people who want to get from Manchester (It is a moot point whether Manchester qualifies as ‘the North’) to London more quickly, but they are not quite so vociferous in speaking up or West Cumbria.
“In contrast, I never stop standing up for West Cumbria. For far too long our public transport in West Cumbria has been slow and unreliable – and this will change all for West Cumbria, for the county and for the wider northern region.
“A Bid has already been submitted to Department of Transport to fund overdue improvements and this shows that the business case has been well-received.”