A GOVERNMENT minister has been told to sort out the recurring problems of the East Lancashire Line with train operator Northern.

Pendle peer Lord Greaves used a special Westminster debate to launch a strongly-worded attack on the reliability of the route from Preston through Blackburn and Burnley to Colne.

He highlighted the impact of the problems on passengers using just eight miles of track serving the three stations of Brierfield Nelson and Colne.

He told governeent minister Lady Sugg: “The problem is the number of trains that simply do not turn up.

“In addition to all the ordinary reasons for that, such as staff not turning up, the problem is that, from where it leaves the main line over to Yorkshire at Gannow Junction in Burnley, the line is just an eight-mile-long single-track siding that ends in the buffers at Colne station.

“There is one train an hour. If a train to Colne is late or if the previous train was late and is still blocking the siding, the train turns back at Burnley.

“ Passengers are left on the platform at Colne, Nelson and Brierfield, and incoming passengers from the Preston and Blackburn direction are turfed off the train at Burnley and left to their own devices.”

Lord Greaves spoke of Pendle residents unable to get to work in Oswaldtwistle and Blackburn, getting inadequate compensation for their inconvenience and having tom ake long journeys West to collect stranded friends and relatives

He said many trains were suddenly terminated at Burnley and called for the reinstatement of the scrapped passing loop at Nelson station.

Lord Greaves said the latest official figures showed that the usage of the three stations had gone down between 2012 and 2015, warning: “If trains do not turn up, people will not use them!”

The Liberal Democrat politician called on the government to put pressure on Northern ‘to make sure that it provides a proper rail services to people who want to use it’.

He said: “Northern, needs to take its responsibility seriously and put on replacement transport, whether that means buses, mini-buses, taxis or whatever. “

Lady Sugg told Lord Greaves: “I was unaware of this issue but I certainly got the message, and we will take up his concerns with Northern Rail, including the need for bus substitution.”

Liam Sumpter, regional director at northern said: “I would like to apologise to any customer who has suffered delays or cancellations of their journeys with Northern.

“Engineering work and sporadic reliability with trains has caused some issues in East Lancashire during the past few months and we work closely with our colleagues across the rail industry to minimise disruption to our customers.”