THE campaign to double the weekday train service between Blackburn and Clitheroe to two an hour has been stepped up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the rail line between the two towns.

Lancashire County Council is now working with Transport for the North and the Rail North Partnership to develop a business case for the timetable upgrade.

Train operator Northern has given a cautious welcome to the move.

Cllr Andrew Snowden, the county council’s deputy transport boss, announced the new joint study to coincide with the Silver Jubilee of the 1994 restoration of regular services on the Ribble Valley Line from Blackburn to Clitheroe via Ramsgreave and Wilpshire, Langho and Whalley.

In December 2017 a new half-hourly weekday service was introduced between Blackburn and Manchester via Darwen and Bolton.

Cllr Snowden said: “I am delighted to announce county council officers are now working with Transport for the North and the Rail North Partnership to develop the business case for two trains to run hourly along the Clitheroe to Blackburn line.

“A new half-hourly service is important in enabling Ribble Valley residents to commute more easily to Manchester, Blackburn and Bolton and for their residents to come to the borough for tourism and recreation.

“It will boost economic development, reduce overcrowding on the trains and get vehicles off the road.”

TfN board member and Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “This is a good idea and fits in with our regional agenda.

“It would get cars off the roads reducing congestion and pollution and make commuting between the Ribble Valley, Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester simpler.”

Chris Jackson, regional director for Northern, said: “We echo the commitment of our partners and rail user groups in working to make this line, its stations and services, the best they can be and are working hard to improve journey opportunities, our stations and our trains.”

Cllr Stephen Atkinson, Ribble Valley Council leader, said: “We are particularly keen to see a shift to half-hourly services to Manchester and direct connections to Preston and the West Coast mainline.”