Electrification plan will not delay East Lancashire rail upgrade, says minister (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Electrification plan will not delay East Lancashire rail upgrade, says minister
RAIL minister Simon Burns has promised the possible electrification of the rail line between Clitheroe, Blackburn and Manchester will not delay the upgrade of the route.
He told local MPs Jack Straw and Jake Berry the long-awaited improvements were still on track for December 2016.
The two politicians last year met Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins to press the case of doubling the full track between Blackburn and Bolton before bringing in a regular half-hourly service on the route. They told him this would be a major boost for the economy, tourism and commuters in East Lancashire.
Sir David gave them assurances that Network Rail was committed to the improvements but said electrification was an option that might cause delays.
Blackburn MP Mr Straw and Rossendale and Darwen Tory Mr Berry wrote to Mr Burns asking for a pledge this would not delay the upgrade.
They told the minister: “During the course of the meeting with Sir David the issue of electrification was raised and we were informed that the Department for Transport had asked for modelling from Network Rail for the possible electrification of the Blackburn to Manchester section.
“It is clear that diesel and further track improvements, such as dynamic loops, are the only feasible option for the urgent improvement needed for the service."
Mr Burns replied: “Given that electrification of this and other routes has not been allocated funding at the present time, it is reasonable and sensible for the local authorities and Network Rail to continue the work towards implementing the extended passing loop in time for the improved service to be introduced in December 2016.”