As locals we have been aware and enthusiastic about the plan to possibly reinstate trains from Keswick to Penrith from its conception.
More recently the track was a well-used and loved trail until it was partially wrecked by the floods of 2015 and we are also keen to see it reinstated. It’s been a long battle getting funds available and agreement on how to go forward repairing the route.
We believe part of the delay was because the route had to remain viable for the return of trains. Given Mr Martindale’s interest in the route we would have thought he and other interested parties would have studied the detail of the plans. We have seen that his CKP company objected to certain work on bridges in 2018 but there are no objections to bridges or tunnel extensions on the 2019 plans. The £8 million project is now nearing completion.
Recently, in the press, Mr Martindale has said: “The railway would generally return to its original alignment. All the work done by LDNPA for the current re- instatement has borne in mind the eventual return of the railways. There would be the minimum of re-work.”
It would appear that the LDNPA has ignored his plea and steamed ahead with their own agenda. There would now, in fact, be a huge amount of additional re-work!
Four local MPs and a team from Allerdale have put together a bid to a government scheme to bring the railway back. This is based on work done over 20 years by CKP railways.
Our query is this: Have any of these people studied the plans now being implemented reinstating the trail? Have they looked at LDNPA plan ref 7/2019/2188 then looked at the detailed plans within that application; CMP_BIG_TUNNEL_MUT-CAP-SGN-BT-DR-C-2511 plus the other plan extensions 2512, 2513 and 2514?
These show the amount of alterations being carried out in the Big (Bobbin Mill) Tunnel. The floor has been infilled by up to 1.5m and concreted over in order to allow the slope of the floor within the original tunnel to be reversed allowing the surface water to flow in the opposite direction.
The contractor was proudly showing Border News inside the tunnel recently. The safety shelter alcove within the tunnel wall could clearly be seen a fraction of its original height because of the raised floor. There is no way a train could go through the tunnel as it is now. Further, the steel tunnel extensions tubes added at either end, are also of insufficient height for a train to pass through and are now being encased within a concrete shell, of more than 1 meter thick in places. All of this is going to be covered with earth.
Therefore, all of the above would need to be removed at great expense before any work could begin again to reinstate the railway and its tunnel.
Further, the new bridges are not engineered to take trains and they also have cross tie bars at 2.7m.high. Therefore a main line train could not travel across them.
There is also part of the new trail which is now off the line of the original track bed. This is because the contractors were not allowed to work in the river to shore up the original damaged embankment. Trains could not negotiate the bends on this new alignment. After many objections four miles of tarmac is being laid along the trail between Keswick and Threlkeld. This would all have to be taken up again and disposed of.
Even if all these problems are overcome and the vast sum of money raised where would the multi purpose trail that has been missed by so many and vital to the local economy be placed?
We cannot understand how the MPs and Allerdale can back the bid at a time when £8 million is already being spent. How could they justify wasting the resources and money currently being spent?
Brenda and Colin Read