OPSTA is a member and supporter of the West of Lancashire Community Rail Partnership. The national Community Rail initiative was created several years ago to provide a more stable basis for local lines to operate within a tougher financial environment, as the overall cost of subsidising railways increases. In Lancashire, a number of partnerships were set up to cover local lines across the county.
OPSTA had numerous misgivings about the principles behind Community Railways. Suffice to say that we take the view that the solution to the increasing costs of the service is not one of retrenchment, especially in the context of substantially increased patronage and higher fares. We consider that the covenant between the service providers across the railway industry and the subsidy payer requires revisiting and rebalancing. Without denying business their just returns, OPSTA is of the opinion that the profit element is poorly reflected in the arrangements that exist between the taxpayer and the service providers throughout the industry.
However, the West Lancashire lines, although they represent (when appreciated as routes) city-to-city services, will not, as it stands, benefit from initiatives leading to improvement without the involvement of the Community Rail Partnership.
The West of Lancashire Community Rail Partnership website may be found here.