TRAINS will be routinely pulling into Huncoat station again after Northern Rail and the Department for Transport announced it is to become a mandatory station.

Chief executive of Lancashire County Council Phil Halsall wrote to Hyndburn MP Graham Jones about plans for the new Blackburn to Manchester service via Accrington and Burnley, which are still being developed.

In the letter, he said: “As you will be aware, work is taking place at Huncoat to remove the signal box.

“I understand that once this has been completed, Huncoat will no longer be a request stop and, in future. all trains will again mandatorily call at the station.”

Huncoat councillor Dave Parkins said he was the ‘last to know’ about the change.

He said: “It’s better if trains are going to stop here. People will be able to get on and off.

“I have had no information on how it’s going to work. We haven’t had much from the county council or Northern Rail.

“It’s all going to be automatic, I was told. If trains have to stop in Huncoat, it’s a good thing.”

Mr Halsall’s letter also said Lancashire County Council was working with several authorities on the ‘possible devolution of rail services to a new ‘Rail in the North’ organisation’.

Devolution is the granting of powers from national level to sub-national level. The council said it was developing a long-term strategy and a consultation draft would be issued shortly.

MP Mr Jones said: “With the discovery of so much shale gas in the north, there’s a possibility that if we had the same powers as the Scottish government, then we could invest more in infrastructure in the north.

“With the community benefit of shale gas and with our own autonomy, we could invest more in infrastructure and that includes transport, roads and railways.

“I’m a great believer in the north having a say over the north and not being run by Whitehall. Devolution to the north on a Scottish basis would be better for jobs and the economy in the north.”