Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has been asked to develop a business case for a HS2 stop in Carlisle – a project that business leaders and politicians say will be a vital boost to Cumbria’s economy.

The business organisation was invited to put forward proposals by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd at a public consultation event on the high-speed rail project held at Carlisle railway station on Tuesday.

If the stop was to materialise trains from the city reach London in two hours 34 minutes – shaving almost an hour of existing direct links via the West Coast Mainline.

Current plans will see HS2 trains – travelling at up to 225mph – on a new high-speed line from London to Wigan before continuing on the existing West Coast Main Line to Scotland.

None of these high-speed trains will stop at Oxenholme, Penrith or Carlisle, forcing Cumbrian passengers to change at Preston.

But hopes are high that Cumbria will secure a stop after HS2 identified Carlisle as a possible hub for the service, where trains would be divided into Glasgow and Edinburgh portions. Previously, it had been planning to split them at Carstairs in Scotland.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying HS2 to stop at Carlisle for the last year, including working with Cumbria’s MPs, the rail minister and Transport for the North.

Its chief executive Rob Johnston said he was positive it could make a strong case.

“The reality is that HS2 will change the whole status of the line that runs through Cumbria,” said Mr Johnston.

“If it doesn’t stop here, we think the services that do will be of a lot less quality and we would effectively become a branch-line

“What we have said, is why not stop here at Carlisle to split the trains and give people the chance to get on and off too.

“Now they are at least talking about it and our next step is to talk to HS2 and work on a business case for it. We can make a very good case. We need to get the mobilisation of the demand and articulate that to them.

“In the future we are going to need all the connections we can get and if we do nothing now we are leaving a terrible legacy for future generations.”

Mr Johnston said there was also the potential for the development of a service depot in Carlisle, which he said could potentially be located at Kingmoor or Longtown.

And he also called for more direct trains from Windermere and Barrow to Manchester Airport. These could connect with HS2 trains to London at Preston.

“Passengers from Windermere to London already have to change at Oxenholme and we don’t want them to have to change twice – at Oxenholme and Preston,” he said.

“Business travellers don’t want to change trains because they like to be able to work without interruption.

“Visitors don’t like changes because it means hauling luggage on and off trains. And every time you change trains, there is the potential for a missed connection.”

Cumbria Tourism is supporting the Chamber’s HS2 campaign.

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “With two world heritage sites and increasing numbers of domestic and international visitors, it is unacceptable to see the proposed HS2 service will not stop here.”

Meanwhile, Cumbria county councillor Keith Little – who is responsible for transport and highways issues at the authority – said a Carlisle stop for HS2 could be “hugely significant for Cumbria”.

“The only way we will develop our economy in the North West and Cumbria is by having good road and rail links,” he added.

HS2 will initially run between London and Birmingham. The extension to Manchester and Wigan should be completed by 2033.

The project is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, a company limited by guarantee established by the Government.

The line has attracted huge controversy with objections against the route, lack of stops, and the cost, which is currently estimated at £56 billion – up 71 per cent on the initial projection of £32.7bn in 2010.