A NEW passing point should be created so more train passengers can take advantage of a faster rail service to Manchester, say campaigners.

Pendle peer and councillor Tony Greaves is leading calls for a new ‘loop’ to be installed between Gannow Junction and Colne so extra trains can be laid on to connect with the new Blackburn and Burnley to Manchester service, at Rosegrove.

Currently any passengers on the Colne to Blackpool South route would have to disembark at Burnley Central or Burnley Barracks and walk across to Burnley Manchester Road or stay on until Rosegrove to pick up the new city trains.

Coun Greaves told a Pendle Council meeting that the only other solution for Colne, Nelson, and Brierfield travellers was if Mainline services were extended to serve Burnley Manchester Road – though a bus firm may be reluctant to co-operate with a rival.

He added: “The new franchise is due in 2016 and what we ought to be doing is requiring that this passing route is included.”

Council leader Coun Joe Cooney said that Pendle was ideally positioned between Manchester and Leeds - but the existing service was ‘not viable’.

And if the long-held dream of restoring the link between Colne and Skipton ever became a reality then a passing point would become even more important.

Coun Graham Waugh said it was time for the line to ‘catch up with the rest of the country’ and bring fresh jobs and investment to Pendle and East Lancashire.

Coun Paul White had drafted a motion, calling for more investment in the Colne service, as ‘little had been done to improve the line in a long time’.

Councillors agreed to lobby Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, Network Rail, Northern Rail, the Transport Secretary and Lancashire County Council over the passing loop.

The new East Lancashire to Manchester service has been delayed until December because of a lack of rolling stock.