HALF hourly trains to Manchester due to roll out in May.

The service is currently hourly, and the proposed changes are set to be made as operators Northern Rail plan to overhaul its timetables in May.

Councillors from Darwen Town and Blackburn with Darwen all agreed it would benefit both Darwen and the borough as a whole.

The additional half-hourly off-peak service will run between Clitheroe, Blackburn, Darwen and Manchester.

Cllr Dave Smith said: “It’s a very good move. Trains to Manchester are always busy, especially the late ones.

“At the moment there tend to be only two carriages on the route and they are always packed.

“But if they are running every half an hour, it should alleviate some of the pressure.

“If trains are cancelled commuters won’t have to wait as long for the next one, so it will improve reliability.

“It will encourage more business all round because people will be able to come out more easily. There will be better connectivity all round.”

The additional track was part-funded by Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Lancashire Economic Partnership.

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Phil Riley said: “The train will run directly from Blackburn the Manchester so will be beneficial to Darwen and the borough as a whole.

“It will mean people will be able to easily work in Manchester and live in the borough.

“Manchester is one of the big cities of the world so anything that increases our connectivity is positive.

“It will also allow those who live in Manchester to travel easily to the borough."

Darwen Mayor Roy Davies said: “I think it’s great news and it’s going to be really good for Darwen.

“People are recognising that Darwen is a destination that people want to travel to.

“Finally, the council are being provided for people who already live here.”

A spokesman for Northern Rail said: “Over the next three years, Northern will deliver a modernisation programme that will transform rail travel in the North.

“The programme includes a wide range of service and route improvements that will be introduced progressively over the next three years."