THREE million pounds could be invested in East Lancashire’s rail links with Manchester if congestion charging plans get the green light in a referendum.

More trains would travel between the city and Clitheroe line, the line which runs through Blackburn, as part of a promised £2.7billion investment in the region’s transport infrastructure.

Later this month ballot papers will be sent out across Greater Manchester asking people to vote on the controversial bid for a Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) funding which would introduce congestion charging in the city.

Bosses from the 10 local Greater Manchester authorities met recently to finalise the proposals - which include £3million for “investment priorities” in the Blackburn to Salford route.

The cash injection has been hailed as “fantastic news” by rail groups.

Peter Moore, of Ribble Valley Rail, said: “It needs doing. We’ve got a situation where the trains aren’t long enough, not often enough and there’s not enough of them.

”We’ve been forgotten in this part of the world but we’re still fighting.”

An official TIF report said stations on the route were well used but suffered from peak period overcrowding.

It promised additional peak period capacity, and improvements to “a number of stations”.

Salford Crescent station would get a revamp under the proposals, which would allow more trains to travel in on the line from Bolton. Facilities at Bromley Cross would also be improved.

Experts say a successful bid could also boost the long-running campaign to fund vital £8million track doubling work. They say with drivers put off by the congestion charge, more people would use the train to Manchester, strengthening the business case put to government and rail bosses.