ROSSENDALE MP Jake Berry has secured a meeting with a Government minister to discuss the possibility of a commuter rail link between Rawtenstall and Manchester.

Mr Berry led a discussion in the House of Commons yesterday about developing the existing track between the valley and Manchester.

After the success of the debate, he has arranged a meeting with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for transport Norman Baker.

Mr Berry said the link was essential to ensure that investors came to the area and would help commuters trying to get to work.

He said: “This rail link is absolutely vital for our future. It is certainly my top priority to try to get this right back on the agenda.

“This is a very long term project. It is still very much a dream but I am hoping to move it to reality.”

Mr Berry said it was possible that the the £30million for a full commuter link would be made available in 2019.

Coun Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, said: “As a council, we are actively pursuing this in terms of trying to persuade the county council to get behind it and identify the need to get a rail link to Rawtenstall.

“But at the minute we do not have the reserves to do it ourselves. It is quite complex and costly.”

But if the link was only extended to Bury, where passengers could transfer on to the Metro to get into Manchester, it would cost around £8million.

Coun Barnes said: “This would be a starting point that I would welcome because I think it gives an option to people trying to get on the M66, which is one of the most unpleasant commuter routes in the country.”

Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, said: “Lancashire County Council needs to step up to the plate on upgrading this link to Rossendale and establish a framework for building up the case and taking this forward.

“I’d suggest rather than spending £32million on rural broadband, perhaps Lancashire County Council could consider the people and economy of Haslingden and commit to this rail link.”