A new study reveals how key rail services connecting Lancashire with Manchester and Yorkshire could look in the future with an injection of investment to meet increased passenger demand.
The work has been carried out to ensure Lancashire is better placed to make the case for service improvements when rail operators review their medium-term business plans with the Rail North Partnership and Department for Transport.
The Lancashire Service Uplifts study commissioned by Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Burnley Borough Council, Ribble Valley Borough Council and Community Rail Lancashire with work being undertaken by Northern Trains Limited.
It examined potential options for improving rail services between Blackpool and York, Burnley to Manchester via Todmorden Curve and Clitheroe and Manchester / Hellifield on the basis that boosting connections from Lancashire could be justified if passenger demands increase in the future as forecast.
The study looked at the case for improved connectivity between Lancashire and surrounding areas, assessing future demand for rail alongside plans for growth in population, housing and employment. Options to meet aspirations for increased services were developed and assessed in terms of costs, benefits and value for money.
The Executive Summary can be downloaded by clicking here. In summary the study concluded that:
+ Rail generates and supports significant social, economic and environmental benefits
+ Creating better and more frequent rail services will improve transport opportunities to the residents and businesses of Lancashire
+ Residents will have access to increasing numbers of jobs in the region, while businesses will be able to draw on a wider regional labour pool
+ Service uplifts will contribute to providing more sustainable travel in the region, taking vehicles off the region’s roads, cutting carbon emissions and improving air quality
From Blackpool to York to deliver two trains per hour between Lancashire and West Yorkshire:
+ Services could be increased to two per hour without any major changes to existing infrastructure but with additional drivers and conductors required
+ The best performing option is the extension of Hull to Halifax services through to Blackpool North
From Burnley to Manchester via Todmorden Curve to deliver two trains per hour between Lancashire and Greater Manchester:
+ Services could be increased to two per hour by extending services from Rochdale which would require additional rolling stock and an uplift in staffing
+ The solution builds on the original Todmorden Curve service introduced in 2015, significantly improving access from East Lancashire into Central Manchester
From Clitheroe to Hellifield / Manchester:
+ Services could be increased to two per hour without any major changes to existing infrastructure and, with some improvements to signalling equipment, could also be extended to Hellifield to improve links to North Yorkshire with additional units and staffing required
+ Creating a better link between Greater Manchester and Lancashire with the Yorkshire Dales would help to support the growth of the leisure industry outside the peak season, and increase job options for people across a wider area
Richard Watts, Chair Community Rail Lancashire, commented; “Good rail links are a vital part of the public transport network across East Lancashire providing strategic links to Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and within Lancashire opening up new opportunities for our local communities. The studies show ways in which the local rail network can be developed and we commend them to Northern, the Rail North Partnership and DfT and hope that they will form the basis for improvements over the coming years. As we meet the climate challenge, we know that rail will have a bigger role to play in providing sustainable mobility in the future”.