Virgin Trains has announced their plans to upgrade Penrith’s railway station due to increased demand.

The rail company, which runs services along the West Coast Mainline through the county, has submitted a planning application to Eden Council requesting permission to overhaul the station.

An extension to the booking hall and waiting area has been proposed, as well as the installation of a new ticket sales desk and a refurbishment of the public toilets.

In their application to Eden Council, national the rail firm explained Penrith station was now experiencing greater demand than before.

“The existing booking hall area and waiting room was provided several years ago and since then customer traffic has greatly increased,” the company said.

“Now the waiting area is often overcrowded. By implementing the proposed extension and providing a new ticket desk [and] pedestrian waiting space, seating and movement will be substantially improved.”

According to data provided by the Office of Rail and Road, passenger numbers have increased at Penrith by 134 per cent.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has argued that HS2 trains should call regularly at the station, along with Oxenholme Lake District, once the line to Glasgow is up-and-running, with Cumbria’s main stop at Carlisle.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison, is also pushing the case for the Northern Powerhouse Rail project – which looks to connect major cities across the North – to be extended to Carlisle too, with trains calling at both  Penrith and Oxenholme.

The proposals to improve Penrith have been welcomed by town councillor and former mayor of the town David Whipp welcomed the proposed renovation, but called for a more significant overhaul to take place.

Mr Whipp explained that Penrith railway station serves a number of commuters who travel into Penrith by car before catching the train to a larger place for work.

“I think Penrith train station is a little bit behind the times,” Mr Whipp said.

“It doesn’t provide parking as it should do for the number of people who travel from Penrith to either Edinburgh or Glasgow, or Manchester or Liverpool and so on. It just clogs that end of town up.”

On top of current demand, Mr Whipp said there was likely to be greater demand in future as more development takes place in Penrith.

“There must be, in the next 20 years I would think, a much bigger plan to do something more significant with Penrith station. 

“There are various plans being circulated at the moment for the future of Penrith, up to 2050,” Mr Whipp continued.

“[Eden] Council’s plan up to 2032 proposes a considerable amount of new housing, so all that new housing will all produce residents which will produce the requirements for a train station.

“It’ll have to be bigger than it is now.”

Mr Whipp believes it would be far from impossible to transform parking facilities at the railway station.

“In my mind it would be relatively easy to expand Penrith station,” he said.

“I’m not saying it would be cheap. But there’s a whole swathe of land at the back of the station that could be used for long stay car parking. 

“There’s land there as long as somebody’s got the mind to do it.

“Lloyd Tractors are currently moving from their site at the back of the station to Gilwilly, to a brand new facility,” Mr Whipp continued.

“That would free up quite a bit of land at the back of the station. That could be long stay parking.”

Mr Whipp said that this expansion of the car parking facilities would ease pressure on the adjacent Ullswater Road.

“The road along Ullswater Road in front of QUEGS and in front of Castle Park wouldn’t be taken up by people parking all day to use trains to the cities.”