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DfT could extend free train service for Cumbrian communities

Hopes to extend free train link in Cumbria

Map showing the location of the new station

Report from the BBC   

A free train service set up to help communities in flood-hit Cumbria could be extended until the end of May.

The service, which runs from Workington to Maryport, is said to cost £10,000 a day - and is believed to have already cost the government £1m.

In November flood waters devastated the area, destroying all the town's bridges, leaving residents cut off.

Workington MP Tony Cunningham said he had appealed to the government directly for the extension.

The service was originally scheduled to run until the end of 2009, but was granted an extension until 2 May 2010.

Workington MP Tony Cunningham said he had asked for the service extension until the end of May because he had concerns the new road bridge would not be ready, despite being told the bridge was a month ahead of schedule.

'Teething problems'

He said: "When the bridge is open there may be teething problems. It's a new bridge with a new road.

"What we don't want is to suddenly have the end of the free train and a situation forcing a lot of people on to the road at a time when the new bridge is there, with issues surrounding that."

He said transport minister Sadiq Khan had said he would extend the service until the end of May.

The free service, operated by Northern Rail trains, is funded by the Department of Transport.

Mr Cunningham said the service cost £10,000 a day and had already run up a bill of £1m.

Northern Rail said it was still in discussions with the Department of Transport and Cumbria County Council regarding the extension.


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