Metrolink trams might one day run to East Lancashire - if  neighbouring councils can work together, an MP has said.

Potential train or tram links between Rossendale and Manchester have been discussed in recent years.

The East Lancashire Railway heritage line could potentially be enhanced with new light rail commuter trains added, some ideas have suggested. But there are a range of views and challenges.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Sir Jake Berry said: “My view is the [Metrolink] tram should be extended.

"The challenge is Bury Council and Greater Manchester need to support it. The majority of track passes through other boroughs.

"We need to continue lobbying the network and speaking to other boroughs and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has access to considerable cash. It’s not a lack of funding that prevents it. It’s more a lack of a local coalition to support it.

“It’s a challenge I’d put on Labour councillors in Rossendale, to bring-on their Labour colleagues from Greater Manchester and make them part of the ambition.

"The appropriate thing is for local authorities to make alliances. Bury Council is not going to do what I tell them.”

A 2022 survey by Rossendale Council saw widespread public support for reinstating some form of rail link between Rawtenstall and Manchester.

Not only would it potentially provide journey times of 44 minutes from the valley to the city centre but reduce car journeys on the M66/A56 by up to three million, it was said.

The original Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom to Bury line closed to passengers in 1972 and to freight in 1980.

An estimated 55 per cent of Rossendale working age residents left the borough each day to access employment.

Sir Jake, along with Rossendale Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes and Hyndburn Tory MPl Sara Britcliffe supported the survey's findings.

But the East Lancashire Railway, which could be used in a new train route, has been a longstanding opponent of anything which would threaten the future of the heritage line.

Possible options could one day include an integrated train shuttle service connecting with Metrolink trams in Bury or a direct train to Manchester Victoria via Heywood. Both would create stations at Rawtenstall, Ewood Bridge (with a park and ride for Haslingden), Stubbins, Ramsbottom and Bury.