A NEW train has been confirmed by rail bosses for the long-awaited faster service between East Lancashire and Manchester city centre.
But the announcement regarding the second-hand diesel, by Northern Rail, has met with mixed reaction among political leaders, amid hopes it was going to arrive this spring.
Work on the reinstated Todmorden Curve is set to be completed by May 12 – but the service will only officially begin this December.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “It is good news that this train has been confirmed because there were some rumours we were not going to get anything. Work is also progressing well on the signalling, but that is a little way off still. I am looking forward to riding on the first train along the Todmorden Curve.”
But Burnley Council leader Coun Julie Cooper said: “It is hugely disappointing that we will have a railway line there from May and the service will not be operational until December.
“I cannot believe it – it has has become a bit of a joke.
“It is estimated that the new line will bring economic benefits of £12million per year so what are we waiting for? I have raised it with our MP, in the hope he could influence this.”
Rail bosses have said that the release of diesel units, prompted by the introduction of electric trains on one of the Liverpool to Manchester lines, would also provide more seats for passengers travelling through Bolton.
But Northern Rail could not confirm whether this would improve the Clitheroe to Manchester service, running through Blackburn and Darwen, or the Preston to Manchester line, covering Chorley and Buckshaw Parkway.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “The deal will provide extra capacity to Bolton and see a passenger train running on the Todmorden Curve for the first time in more than 40 years. I look forward to further improvements as more trains are introduced.”