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New hope for East Lancashire to Manchester rail link
A POSSIBLE lifeline could be thrown to East Lancashire’s long-awaited faster train service to Manchester after the intervention af a transport minister.
The Lancashire Telegraph revealed earlier this year that no diesel trains could be found to run on the reinstated Todmorden Curve, when it is scheduled to reopen in the spring.
Northern Rail had blamed a national shortage of diesel units — provoking fury among East Lancashire MPs and leading councillors.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw, during a Transport Questions session in the House of Commons, said it was a ‘bizarre situation’, after an £8million investment, that there were now no trains to run along the line from East Lancashire to Manchester Victoria. The former Home Secretary asked ministers to meet with both himself and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones regarding possible delays to the much-anticipated route’s operation. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has also raised questions about the delay.
In reply, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said he had already been lobbied about the matter by a number of Lancashire MPs. He said: “I expect to have some good news about rolling stock next year and I would be happy to meet the right honourable gentleman and his colleague.”
Originally the East Lancashire to Manchester Victoria service, running from Blackburn through Accrington, Rosegrove, Burnley Manchester Road and Todmorden, was destined to begin next May, before the trains shortage was disclosed.
Coun Margaret Lishman, opposition leader on Burnley Council, has urged every borough councillor to email Northern Rail regarding the trains delay.
Burnley Council leader Coun Julie Cooper said it was ‘embarrassing’ that, after having the line reinstated following years of campaigning, there were no trains to transport passengers.
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