East Lancashire politicians in rail link bid discussion with transport minister (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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East Lancashire politicians in rail link bid discussion with transport minister
POLITICIANS have met with a transport minister for the first time to discuss a potential rail link with Manchester.
Council leader Alyson Barnes and MP Jake Berry were among the travelling party who met with Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport, in London to discuss improving the borough’s connections.
Coun Barnes said the meeting was ‘a useful start’ and that it was now up to her team to convince the county council that a railway line in the Valley should be its number one transport priority.
The cost of a ‘full-blown, bells and whistles’ scheme would be roughly £28million, but other options, such as upgrading the heritage line between Rawtenstall and Bury are also being considered.
Coun Barnes said: “The business community in Rossendale has identified a rail link as its number one priority and the borough council support that.
"The M66 is a nightmare for commuters at present, one of the worst roads for congestion in the country.
“We have already received support, in principle, from Rochdale and Bury councils. It’s a complex scheme and we will need some sort of capital investment, but the fact is we are the only area in Lancashire without proper rail links.”
“One problem is that money made from commuters may not cover the costs of the scheme but we are keen to emphasise the broader economic potential.
"County Councillor Malcolm Barron, a board member at the East Lancashire Railway Trust, added that the meeting was ‘very amicable’.
“The minister was very receptive to our ideas.
“We are also looking at how we can attract passengers to come from cruise ships docking in Liverpool to East Lancashire.”