A campaign to make sure high speed trains stop in Cumbria has been backed by the new operator of the West Coast Main Line.

Avanti – which took over the franchise from Virgin on Sunday – said HS2 trains should mirror the existing stopping pattern in the county as far as possible. It is due to operate HS2 services from 2026.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has been campaigning for the high speed rail link to include stops in Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme for more than a year.

The campaign was launched in response to HS2’s proposals that its trains would operate non-stop between Preston and Scotland, forcing Cumbrian passengers to change at Preston to get to London.

Although the new high-speed line is not projected to go any further north than Wigan, HS2 trains will continue over existing tracks to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a breakthrough for our campaign. Omitting Cumbrian stops would send the wrong message to inward investors.

"It would also make rail a less attractive option and put at risk the strong growth in rail patronage that we’ve seen over the last 15 years.”

Avanti, in a letter to the chamber, said: “The intention for when Glasgow-bound high speed trains transition to classic tracks is that, as far as possible, they will mirror current intercity calling patterns north of Preston.”

Mr Johnston added: “As soon as the operator for the new franchise was announced, we arranged a meeting to put our case and we were delighted to hear that they agree with us. Their support makes it much more likely that HS2 trains will stop here.”

The future of HS2 remains uncertain, as it is subject to a government review into the costs and benefits of the project.

The high-speed line was due to be open between London and Birmingham by 2026, and to Wigan by 2033, but delays mean the final phase to Wigan will not now be complete until 2035-40.

Avanti is a joint venture of the British bus and rail company FirstGroup and Italian state-owned rail operator Trenitalia.

It is due to run services on the West Coast Main Line until at least 2031 and is working with HS2 and the Department for Transport to introduce HS2 services.

It was named as the new operator for the West Coast Main Line after Virgin and its franchise partner Stagecoach, which had run the service since 1997, were barred from bidding due to a pensions row.

Avanti said it planned to refurbish the existing 56 Pendolino trains and has pledged that by 2022, there will be 263 more train services a week.