THE final preparations are being made for a new train service, which should bring economic benefits totalling more than £20 million to East Lancashire.

For the first time in 50 years this Sunday, train passengers will be able to travel directly from Blackburn, Burnley and Accrington to Todmorden, and on to Manchester.


Council bosses in Burnley have estimated that the arrival of the faster service, withdrawing the requirement for city-bound travellers to change at Hebden Bridge, will provide a £12 million boost to the borough – with millions more expected to be generated for neighbouring Hyndburn and Pendle.

Currently Burnley and Accrington passengers have to change at Blackburn, and wait between half an hour and 45 minutes for a connecting service from Clitheroe, running on via Darwen and Entwistle to Manchester Victoria.

New Burnley MP Julie Cooper said: “This will bring massive benefits to the borough – it’s been a long time coming .

“It will be a really important factor in the regeneration of Burnley and will be an important platform, which we can build on for the future.”

Government transport bosses have pledged that unpopular “Pacer” trains, used in East Lancashire, will be phased out by 2020.

Cllr Clare Cleary, regeneration cabinet member at Hyndburn Council, added: “The possibilities are endless for the borough, not only with the number of people in the Accrington area who will be able to access a faster service.

“There is the potential offered by the new industrial site at Whitebirk and we are hopeful of developing new housing sites at Huncoat and Lydon playing fields in Great Harwood, which will be more attractive with good transport links.”

The first hourly service this Sunday will depart at 8.18am from Blackburn and arrive in Manchester at 9.36am. The last hourly train back will be at 9.50pm. Weekday services, starting on Monday, will begin at 6.15am, and return hourly until 10.50pm.

Return fares for the Sundays will range from £9.80-£10.10, from Accrington and Burnley Manchester Road respectively, with commuter services priced £12.30-£12.70, depending on the station.

The trains will also call at Rose Grove, Todmorden, Walsden and stations in the Rochdale area to Manchester Victoria, with Church and Oswaldtwistle added on Sundays only.