Rossendale to Manchester rail link could be reopened

Northern Rail
Image caption The line between Rossendale and Manchester was closed to commuters in the 1960s

The government is to hold talks on reopening a commuter rail line from east Lancashire to Manchester.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said restoring the link from Rossendale, which closed to commuters in the 1960s, could cost about £30m.

Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, told a debate in Westminster Hall that the area was "marooned" by poor transport links.

He said a commuter rail link was "vital" for east Lancashire's economy.

'Particularly unfortunate'

Mr Berry said: "We in Rossendale do not want to send our brightest and best south down the motorway every day.

"A rail link will bring investment into Rossendale as well as supporting a mobile and skilled work force."

In reply, Mr Baker said: "I support fully the reopening of railway lines as a means of improving accessibility to places subject, of course, to there being a satisfactory business case.

"Rossendale was particularly unfortunate to have its railway line closed as a result of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s and 1970s."

The line was closed to regular services by cuts made by Dr Beeching, the then chair of British Railways, in the 1960s.

Steam train enthusiasts currently run heritage services along the line.

Labour MP for Blackburn Jack Straw and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones - who is also Labour - are supporting the campaign to bring services back to the line.

Mr Straw said there was a "blatant demand" for the work.

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