MORE rail services are being introduced on the Bentham Line – which runs through Keighley.

New timetables nationally will see a 38 per cent increase in the number of trains each week on the popular route, between Leeds and Morecambe, from Sunday (May 20).

And there will be more connections to places such as Windermere and the Cumbrian coast.

Seven trains will run in each direction Monday to Saturday and five on Sundays, with services extended into the evening.

The move is welcomed by Gerald Townson, chairman of the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (Bentham Line).

He said: “The partnership is delighted with the improvements to the service on the route and has worked alongside Northern to bring them to fruition as soon as possible.

“We are keen that travellers make good use of the extra journey possibilities this offers.

“The first eastbound train into Leeds will now arrive 22 minutes earlier, at 8.43am, making it far more useful for potential commuters as well as being attractive for educational users.

“With a more regular service, over a longer period each day, the leisure traveller has far more choice too.

“It is important for all to have the opportunities to travel for work, education, health care, appointments, days out, holidays and leisure.

“The Bentham Line is now in a better position to provide these opportunities for more people, through the improved timetable but also the partnership’s initiative in working with Northern to make the line dementia friendly.”

There are connections at Carnforth to and from the Furness Line and the Cumbrian Coast route, whilst at Lancaster, connections are readily available southwards and northwards.

Connections at Leeds cover the East Coast mainline and CrossCountry, together with local services across the north.

The expansion of services is also praised by Lancaster and Skipton Rail User Group (LASRUG), which has campaigned for years for the improvements.

Its co-chairman, Richard Rollins, said: “Particularly pleasing is the introduction of the 5.25pm and 7.18pm departures from Leeds to Lancaster and Morecambe.

“These will allow business and leisure travellers to return at more practical times than was previously possible.

“There are also later eastward services than before.

“Both the partnership and LASRUG are now eager to promote the new possibilities for travel on and beyond the Bentham Line and look forward to seeing local communities make full use of the services to create ‘greener’ journeys.”

Over the coming months, further improvements are planned for the Bentham Line as part of the Northern franchise.

They include a service to Lancaster and Morecambe arriving in Lancaster at around 9am and a new morning eastbound train to Skipton and Leeds.