No funding for East Lancashire rail improvements

THE prospects of improving East Lancashire’s creaking rail links are looking remote after they were snubbed by regional government bosses.

Much-needed revamps of the region’s connections to Manchester have been left off a new document setting out what will be given funding up to 2019.

Council bosses insist they are still hopeful of finding the cash to pay for the projects.

But Network Rail has already confirmed it has no plans to improve the Clitheroe to Manchester line, which would increase the frequency of services through Blackburn, or reinstate the Todmorden Curve which would mean direct trains between Manchester and Burnley.

The snub is a bitter blow after PM Gordon Brown signed a much-trumpeted agreement with council bosses in January.

The Pennine Lancashire agreement, which sees East Lancashire’s councils working together towards joint goals, promised to put the rail links at the top of its priorities. But government bosses avoided committing to actually carrying out the work.

Now the Regional Funding Advice has been produced by the North West Regional Development Agency and 4NW, which looks at regional planning matters.

It allocates hundreds of millions of pounds to major projects across the region.

Phil Robinson, chief executive of 4NW, admitted preparing the document meant some “tough choices”.

But Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Michael Lee said he was still hopeful: “I would hope it would happen regardless of what’s in there.

"We never expected it before 2013 anyway. You can’t sign something then say you’re not bothering any more.”

The infrastructure of the Clitheroe line needs to be improved before more frequent, longer trains can be added.

Meanwhile, studies have shown reinstating the Todmorden Curve would mean a 38-minute journey from Manchester to Burnley, and 49 minutes to Accrington, benefiting 170,000 people.

Comments (6)

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5:52pm Mon 13 Jul 09

Old Timer says...

I refer to my comments posted
7:13pm Sun 12 Jul 09
"When will people realise this Todmorden curve is the thoughts of those who live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. It will never make money and is not viable to investors like Network Rail. The only people who will use this line will be those with good jobs who work in Manchester. I can't see it working the other way of Mancunians coming to work in Burnley so it is a case of one way traffic - Morning out , Evening back."

We no longer live in those good old days when public institutions were starting to make life better for the community. It's all about investing money and returns. All of us have destroyed what had just become good in the early 1960's when the ordinary person started to believe they were
better off investing in shares with the thoughts of becoming millionaires. Financial advisers my b*m.

I refer to my comments posted 7:13pm Sun 12 Jul 09 "When will people realise this Todmorden curve is the thoughts of those who live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. It will never make money and is not viable to investors like Network Rail. The only people who will use this line will be those with good jobs who work in Manchester. I can't see it working the other way of Mancunians coming to work in Burnley so it is a case of one way traffic - Morning out , Evening back." We no longer live in those good old days when public institutions were starting to make life better for the community. It's all about investing money and returns. All of us have destroyed what had just become good in the early 1960's when the ordinary person started to believe they were better off investing in shares with the thoughts of becoming millionaires. Financial advisers my b*m. Old Timer

8:20pm Mon 13 Jul 09

Merlin The Voice of Reason says...

All this proves is:

1. Gordon Brown might sign a document but it carries no weight; he doesn't really exercise any power;

2. Your MP might be favour of improving rail links but is also really powerless to effect change;

3. Your Councillors may also want to see rail improvements but again they have little power.

You have voted for those listed in 1, 2 and 3.

Yet the decisions about spending the money are being made by the North West Development Agency, a QUANGO -unelected by you and me!

Have a look at the CVs of the NWDA Executive and you will soon see why these links will never go ahead - it is populated by those with vested interests in Manchester and Liverpool. So your money will go into Greater Manchester and Scouseland, mark my words.

These areas don't really want people coming in from outside for work and taking jobs. The Manchester Congestion Charge was designed to penalise those coming in from the Outer Ring (e.g. anyone from Lancashire).

Write to your MP and point this out and say unless work actually starts before the next election you will be voting for someone else!
All this proves is: 1. Gordon Brown might sign a document but it carries no weight; he doesn't really exercise any power; 2. Your MP might be favour of improving rail links but is also really powerless to effect change; 3. Your Councillors may also want to see rail improvements but again they have little power. You have voted for those listed in 1, 2 and 3. Yet the decisions about spending the money are being made by the North West Development Agency, a QUANGO -unelected by you and me! Have a look at the CVs of the NWDA Executive and you will soon see why these links will never go ahead - it is populated by those with vested interests in Manchester and Liverpool. So your money will go into Greater Manchester and Scouseland, mark my words. These areas don't really want people coming in from outside for work and taking jobs. The Manchester Congestion Charge was designed to penalise those coming in from the Outer Ring (e.g. anyone from Lancashire). Write to your MP and point this out and say unless work actually starts before the next election you will be voting for someone else! Merlin The Voice of Reason

9:21pm Mon 13 Jul 09

Jim Swanton says...

Any of us who care about East Lancashire's future should be petitioning their MPs about these much needed schemes to improve our connectivity to Manchester. We should also look to reinstate the Colne-Skipton line.
Any of us who care about East Lancashire's future should be petitioning their MPs about these much needed schemes to improve our connectivity to Manchester. We should also look to reinstate the Colne-Skipton line. Jim Swanton

11:22am Tue 14 Jul 09

Izanears says...

We should also look to reinstate the Colne-Skipton line.

Sorry Jim, but this really is cloud cuckoo land. For heavens sake put the idea to bed once and for all.
We should also look to reinstate the Colne-Skipton line. Sorry Jim, but this really is cloud cuckoo land. For heavens sake put the idea to bed once and for all. Izanears

5:10pm Tue 14 Jul 09

Pennine Lad says...

This news is not a surprise, but it shouldn't stop continuing efforts to get the much-needed investment.

The key to this is for the Pennine Lancashire local authorities and MPs to put what they perceive as their individual self-interests to one side. Between them, they are backing too many horses (twin-tracking from Blackburn to Manchester / Todmorden Curve / more trains Clitheroe to Blackburn / Colne-Skipton reinstatement).

Instead, they should concentrate on lobbying for one priority, which in my opinion is the Todmorden Curve.

The reinstatement of this link may not ever be profitable in a narrow cost / benefit sense, but it could be hugely beneficial in terms of revitalising the economy and housing market in this area.

It would allow Manchester-based workers to consider living here without a lengthy daily commute. It would enable graduates and others from Burnley and Pendle to stay here and find work in Manchester.

Blackburn with Darwen Council and Jack Straw should put their weight behind the case for the Tod Curve as the top priority. If they don't, they are guaranteeing that nothing will ever happen to any of the proposals.
This news is not a surprise, but it shouldn't stop continuing efforts to get the much-needed investment. The key to this is for the Pennine Lancashire local authorities and MPs to put what they perceive as their individual self-interests to one side. Between them, they are backing too many horses (twin-tracking from Blackburn to Manchester / Todmorden Curve / more trains Clitheroe to Blackburn / Colne-Skipton reinstatement). Instead, they should concentrate on lobbying for one priority, which in my opinion is the Todmorden Curve. The reinstatement of this link may not ever be profitable in a narrow cost / benefit sense, but it could be hugely beneficial in terms of revitalising the economy and housing market in this area. It would allow Manchester-based workers to consider living here without a lengthy daily commute. It would enable graduates and others from Burnley and Pendle to stay here and find work in Manchester. Blackburn with Darwen Council and Jack Straw should put their weight behind the case for the Tod Curve as the top priority. If they don't, they are guaranteeing that nothing will ever happen to any of the proposals. Pennine Lad

10:17pm Thu 16 Jul 09

happycyclist says...

Why should Jack Straw back the Tod line? He's Blackburn's MP and it's the Clitheroe-Manchester line that would benefit his constituents. The comments made by Pennine Lad about Burnley and Pendle apply equally about Blackburn and Darwen -especially Darwen, which has enormous potential as a commuter town.
Why should Jack Straw back the Tod line? He's Blackburn's MP and it's the Clitheroe-Manchester line that would benefit his constituents. The comments made by Pennine Lad about Burnley and Pendle apply equally about Blackburn and Darwen -especially Darwen, which has enormous potential as a commuter town. happycyclist

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