TWO East Lancashire MPs have secured a House of Commons debate, calling for better rail services to and from Manchester.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw, and Darwen MP Jake Berry will make the case for improvements to the Clitheroe to Manchester line - which also goes through Blackburn and Darwen - and the need for doubling the track between Blackburn and Bolton.
The 30 minute debate is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, with a reply expected from a Department of Transport minister.
Mr Straw said: “The trains on this line are very heavily loaded, and especially at peak times, the overcrowding is intolerable.
“We have a 30 minute service at peak times, but at every other time, it’s an hour. I want to see some doubling of the tracks to provide a more frequent service, or for more rolling stock to be put on the line.
“Something like that would probably cost in the region of £15million, so we need to find that money.
“Research has shown that London and the South East are disproportionately benefitting from rail investment, and we need to make sure we get some in East Lancashire.”
Mr Straw added that rail improvements are “vital” to the future of the area.
Recently it was announced that the £8.8million Todmorden Curve project, to cut journey times between Manchester and Burnley, would be given the go-ahead.
Mr Straw said: “Rail commuting is very important to the East Lancashire economy. The Greater Manchester area is a major economic generator of the whole region, and we need to make sure that people are able to easily travel there from East Lancashire.
“Thirty years ago the electrification of the West Yorkshire railway line lead to a huge economic boost for that area, and I believe this kind of investment would have a similar result here.
“This is an all-party issue, and we’re supported by district and county councils. It is very important to get this investment.”
Mr Berry said: “This issue has lost momentum and is something we need to bring to the Government’s attention once more.
“By doubling the track around Turton, we can improve the frequency of the service, with Darwen benefitting most.”