Select Committee on Transport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by CKP Railways plc (REN 06)




  1.1  This memorandum describes the work done to date by the project executive team and the impact that the project would have on economic and social development in the region. The project executive team comprises CKP Railways plc, Corus Rail Consultancy and Halliburton Brown and Root.

  1.2  The redundant rail corridor created by closure of the original railway between Keswick and Penrith in 1972 still exists and is largely unobstructed. Most of the land has been sold to adjoining landowners and 5km has been converted for use as a cycletrack.

  1.3  CKP Railways plc is a local company set up to raise finance for an investigation of the feasibility of re-introducing a rail link to Keswick and to prepare the necessary drawings and reports required for submission of an application for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1994 to construct the new line.


  2.1  The station site in Keswick still exists and schemes have been developed for the construction of a new terminal station with two platforms, car parking and interchange facilities. The station will be capable of handling six coach diesel units and eight coach locomotive hauled trains.

  2.2  The proposal is to construct 28.6km of new single track railway to a new junction with the West Coast Main Line 1.0km south of Penrith Station. Two short sections of double track are required to allow trains to pass.

  2.3  Schemes for intermediate stations at Threlkeld, Troutbeck, Penruddock and Rheged have been developed.

  2.4  The route follows the alignment of the original railway, for most of its length, but two deviations are proposed. At Beckces, a new viaduct and other structures are required and can be avoided if a new alignment following the A66 highway corridor is adopted. At Stainton, the original route loops northwards and can be shortened by 2km by again following the A66.

  2.5  A large number of the structures required still exist and are suitable for repair and strengthening. Others have been fully, or partially removed and major works are required at the three points where the A66 highway has been built across the route. Schemes have been prepared for all of the new structures and works to existing structures.

  2.6  The cost to construct the new railway is estimated as £60 million based upon the proposed scheme with an aspiration to achieve 95mph running with modern diesel units. The estimate includes the works necessary for the provision of the new junction with the West Coast Main Line and associated works to the existing signalling system.

  2.7  The timescales for reinstatement are as follows:

    —  Transport and Works Act Order Submission   6 months

    —  Transport and Works Act Order Approval 6 to 18 months

    —  Construction 18 months


  3.1  Construction of the new railway will provide opportunities to introduce direct services from Keswick to and from other parts of the national rail network by the extension of existing services and favourable responses have been received from the operators of these services.

  3.2  The proposed service would include a regular hourly service from Keswick to Carlisle and intermediate direct services to destinations beyond Carlisle. This would improve the service between Penrith and Carlisle making rail travel more attractive for passengers starting their journeys at Penrith. Services would run seven days per week from early morning to very late evening to suit the commuting, business and leisure markets.

  3.3  The local economy was badly affected by the foot and mouth crisis during 2001, which affected the rural farming businesses and tourism.

  3.4  Local employment would gain directly from jobs created to build, operate and maintain the railway. The railway would be managed locally in line with the principles advocated by Salveson (2000) in his report "Developing Rural Railways" commissioned by the Strategic Rail Authority.

  3.5  Indirect employment would be created by local businesses supplying goods and services to the railway.

  3.6  Employment opportunities would increase in the local communities as a result of improved mobility between the towns served increasing the skills base available to new enterprises.

  3.7  Keswick, Penrith and Carlisle have complimentary education and leisure facilities, which are currently available only to car owners.

  3.8  Tourism is a major industry in Keswick and further growth is restricted by the lack of car parking capacity in the town. The railway would bring tourists without cars, who are also more likely to spend longer in the town, improving sales by local businesses. There is very little non-intrusive space available in Keswick for the provision of additional car parking. Co-operation with accommodation providers, local transport operators and other businesses (many of whom already financially support the project) would improve the sustainability and diversity of tourism opportunities.

  3.9  Walkers and cyclists would choose Keswick as the starting, or finishing point of their tours because of the railway.

  3.10  A large proportion of seasonal staff employed in the tourist industry live in and a greater proportion would be able to commute, freeing additional accommodation for use by visitors.

  3.11  Keswick would act as a bridgehead for West Cumbria to the national network. West Cumbria has rising unemployment and poor transport links. Integration with other forms of public transport would be mutually beneficial to the railway and local operators, and help development of the economy in adjacent areas. The potential positive impact by re-opening the railway has been acknowledged by Cumbria County Council in various development plans.

  3.12  Freight services would be possible. Considerable areas of forestry exist near the line and there are industrial developments associated with former quarries that could be potentially rail connected. The original railway was double track for much of its length and the available formation width could accommodate additional tracks and sidings at a number of locations suitable as potential freight terminals.

  3.13  Discussions with local businesses suggest that there is scope to market combined travel and accommodation packages. At the top end, this could include a luxury service direct from an airport to hotels in Keswick aimed to attract wealthy foreign visitors.

  3.14  Keswick would benefit from the perceived status of being on the national rail network. New businesses would be more attracted to set up in the town by the improved communications.

  3.15  Sustainability would be improved by reducing CO2 emissions. Figures quoted by the Strategic Rail Authority (2002) indicate that trains produce significantly less CO2 than road vehicles. The figure quoted for a regional diesel unit is approximately half of the value for a petrol powered car per passenger km. Electrification is not proposed, but the works designed will provide for potential future electrification.

  3.16  Telecommunications needed for signalling purposes could be developed in association with an optic fibre cable route along the railway, to also provide improved telecommunications facilities for the local area.


  4.1  The estimated cost of £60 million is under 0.2% of the funding allocated to achievement of the government's 10 year plan to support operation and investment in the railway.

  4.2  It is much cheaper than equivalent road schemes which currently receive high levels of public funding and do nothing to achieve the government's desired modal shift from road to rail.

  4.3  Funding to date has been raised through the sale of bonds by the promoting company CKP Railways plc to private individuals and organisations. This funding will enable completion of the submission for a Transport and Works Act Order necessary for construction of the line. Keswick residents have shown support for the project by contributing an average of £10 per head of population.

  4.4  Before submission of the application, funding must be secured for the construction, operation and maintenance of the railway. Government funding and support in the form of grants and guarantees would make the project much more attractive for private investment.

  4.5  The Keswick Area Partnership and the Penrith Area Partnership are both putting together funding strategies to provide funds from the Government's Market Towns Initiative. Both towns have recognised that the railway has a tremendous amount to offer.

  4.6  The project will contribute to economic regeneration in Northern Cumbria, an area which was particularly badly affected by the foot and mouth disease and should qualify for European Community funding.

  4.7  CKP Railways plc applied to the Strategic Rail Authority for Rail Passenger Partnership funding in January, 2001, but despite initial encouragement, the application has not been pursued to date. The SRA Strategic Plan identifies new lines as eligible for support under the RPP scheme. Funding would assist completion of the Transport and Works Order submission and implementation of the project.

  4.8  Discussions are progressing with various sources of private funding. Private funding would be more readily available if government funding and/or credit guarantees are made available.


  5.1  The provision of a modern rail link to Keswick would benefit economic and social development in Northern Cumbria.

  5.2  The investment needed to construct the new railway would provide a valuable expansion to the national network.

  5.3  The Strategic Rail Authority's position regarding the provision of Rail Passenger Partnership funding should be reviewed in light of the positive benefits of the project.

  5.4  The government's desired modal shift from road to rail transport will be encouraged by connecting Keswick to the national rail network.

  5.5  Project completion could be achieved in three years with government support.


  Martindale, C A (1998), Return to Keswick—The Case for a New Railway, Iceni Enterprises Ltd, Carlisle.

  Salveson, P. (2000), Developing Rural Railways: Stage 1 Report to Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, Transport Research and Information Network, Huddersfield.

  Strategic Rail Authority (2002), The Strategic Plan.


  Further details of the project are available on the CKP Railways plc web site

5 June 2002

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