EVIDENTLY, a head of steam is building up behind the need to revive East Lancashire's railways.

Decimated in the 1960s' surgery by Dr Beeching and then exposed to decades of neglect, our region's railways have been an overlooked asset for too long.

But now there is real light at the end of the tunnel.

Already we have seen the successful revival of passenger trains on the Blackburn to Clitheroe line.

Now, together with the forthcoming modernisation of the West Coast main line and Railtrack's multi-million spending boost in Lancashire, including a major upgrade of the Blackburn to Bolton route, another important piece of the revival jigsaw is snapped into place today.

For, promising a "great future" for East Lancashire's lines, North Western Trains boss Peter Strachan reveals plans for three new stations in the region - at Nelson East, Greenbank in Blackburn, and Spring Vale, Darwen - along with improvements to many others. And this announcement comes hard on the heels of a strategy last month which envisaged a new Burnley West rail station and Metrolink-style services between Manchester and Preston and East Lancashire.

As an ardent campaigner for East Lancashire's economic security, this newspaper has always seen the need for improvements in the region's communications.

We have seen what gains - environmental as well as economic - have come with the long-fought-for connection of the M65 with the main motorway network.

But to realise the full potential, it is just as vital that the value of the renewal of the region's rail network is realised.

For, as the revival of the Clitheroe line has shown, improved rail services cut road congestion, reduce pollution and boost employment and job-seeking opportunities.

And matched on the rest of the region's lines, such improvements would bring these kind of gains on a much wider scale.

Let us get on with it.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.