Line News




When the Department for Transport officially signed the contract for the new Northern franchise, Chris Burchell, Managing Director Arriva Trains UK (the new franchisee), said "The journey towards a complete transformation in services for customers in the North starts now".

In the new May timetable, available on line, there has indeed been a "complete transformation in services for customers" – unfortunately from one of our better timetables to possibly the worst the Furness Main Line has had for many years.

In the current timetable, there are four through services from Barrow to Manchester Airport. In the new one starting on 15th May, there will only be three: what is  probably the busiest train of the day, the 08:50 from Barrow to Manchester Airport, will now only go as far as Preston.  Passengers for Manchester are advised to change at Lancaster.

Until 8th July this service will, as now, use a First TransPennine three coach 185 set.  Thereafter it will leave at 09:17 and could become a rather overcrowded two coach set - just as the school holidays start!

Also in the new timetable, the present all-stations 14:32 from Barrow to Manchester Airport will leave nine minutes later at 14:41 and will only stop at Ulverston, Grange-over- Sands and Arnside. 

This means that passengers from Roose, Dalton, Cark, Kents Bank or Silverdale stations will have only one direct service to the airport, that leaving Barrow at 06:48. So early in the day this is not really run to benefit Furness Main Line passengers, but rather to get the unit onto the Bolton Corridor in time for Manchester commuters. 

However, this does mean that early passengers from north of Barrow will benefit from being able to catch the Manchester service - always assuming, that is, that they are able to manage the five minute connection dash between platform 2 and platform 1.

Talking of connections, the National Rail web-site shows that passengers from Roose, Dalton, Cark, Kents Bank or Silverdale who want to travel to Manchester should get the 13:31 from Barrow arriving at Lancaster at 14:33 in Platform 2, whence those who are fleet of foot can sprint across to platform 4 and catch the 14:39 to Preston, changing there again for the final leg to Manchester

Those of us who are not so nimble and cannot make the six minute connection will have plenty of time in hand, as the next service shown on National Rail leaves Lancaster almost an hour later at 15:25.  At least this is a through service to Manchester..

There is another connection anomaly in the new timetable.  With the current timetable, passengers from Manchester Airport can leave at 11:29 on a through service to  Barrow, arriving at 14:04  Unfortunately this service will not be part of the new timetable.  According to the National Rail web site, passengers will have to leave at either 10:29 changing at Preston and Lancaster to arrive in Barrow at 13:23, or at 12:00 changing at Lancaster and arriving at 14:23.

 What the National Rail web site does not show, is that you can leave Manchester Airport at 11:00 and arrive at Lancaster at 12:14 without changing. Then, after a simple, short walk along platform 3 to platform 2 you can catch the same 12:19 from Lancaster and arrive in Barrow at 13:23.  If you’re at the front of the train, it’s almost a cross-platform change. 

The reason this 11:00 service is not shown as an Airport connection is the five minute dwell time.  Lancaster has to have a minimum connection time of six minutes. Yet for some other services, a passenger is expected to get from platform 2, or the Barrow end of platform 3 and over the footbridge to platforms 4 or 5 in six minutes.  If you are infirm or encumbered, or need to use the lift, this is simply not practicable.

There is a story that the sole witness to a head-on collision in Mid West America, when asked by the coroner for his thoughts at the time of the incident, replied “What a helluva way to run a railway.”

When we see what is happening with the new timetable, FLAG’s thoughts are also “what a hell of a way to run a railway”.

If you too are unhappy, please contact both the following:-

Chris Burchell, Managing Director Arriva Trains UK  email -

Alex Hynes, Managing Director Arriva Rail North       email -







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FLAG The Rail User Group For Furness And West Cumbria