Published Thursday 5 March 2015 at 17:05
Investment and upgrading could be coming to the borough’s railways – meaning better journeys to Manchester, Clitheroe, Preston and York and economic growth for the area.
It would see the electrification of these rail services which would speed up journeys and improve the quality of trains on Blackburn with Darwen’s rail network.
These better connections and travel times would help to further boost the borough’s economy, through encouraging businesses, job growth and tourism and numbers of visitors to the area.
A recommendation was made by Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, as part of a report developed by an independent Electrification Task Force which examined 32 routes across the North.
The task force was partnered by Rail North for the report, called the ‘Final Report into the prioritisation for future electrifications schemes in the North’
There are 12 routes in Tier One which the Task Force is recommending be progressed, two of which if developed would provide an electrified network for the borough –these are the Calder Valley line which links Blackburn to Preston and Blackpool to the West and Leeds and York to the East and the Bolton to Clitheroe section of the Ribble Valley line which connects Blackburn and Darwen to Bolton and Manchester in the south and Clitheroe in the north.
The Task Force put economic growth and connectivity first in its considerations, as part of the emerging ‘Northern Powerhouse’ concept. Three core criteria were agreed: economic benefits; impact on services, costs and environment; and providing better train capacity and quality.
Councillor Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said:
This announcement is welcome news and something we have been campaigning for over a number of years.”
Investment in electrification will bring forward significant economic benefits for the region, supporting business, tourism and job growth and contributing to the prosperity of Lancashire and the rest of the North of England through better connections, faster journeys and better trains.”
Working with authorities across the North and with the Department for Transport we are trying to ensure the best possible foundations are set for the North of England’s future rail network.