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Council Bid for Better Rail Services Goes up a Gear

Rail services campaign 2018
ON TRACK – Ribble Valley Borough Council’s regeneration policy officer, Craig Matthews; Rupert Swarbrick, chairman of the council’s economic development committee; council leader Ken Hind and Ribble Valley Rail chairman Marjorie Birch.
Published Friday, 11 May 2018

A council bid for better rail services in Ribble Valley has gone up a gear.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s economic development committee has agreed to push for the doubling of passenger services between Clitheroe and Manchester and investigate the restoration of services between Clitheroe and Hellifield.

And the council has also objected to the proposed closure of the Clitheroe Interchange.

The committee heard passenger numbers were booming in the borough and increasing the hourly Clitheroe to Manchester service to half-hourly and adding a late-night service would greatly enhance the travel experience of the line’s 284,000 or so annual users.

Furthermore, the council wants to investigate the reintroduction of passenger trains to Hellifield, which will link Clitheroe to Skipton, Bradford and Leeds to the East and Lancaster and Carlisle to the West.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Ken Hind said: “We have been in contact with Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling and Northern Trains, and met representatives of Network Rail, Transport for the North and Lancashire County Council, regarding the extension and improvement of local rail services.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of rail passengers in the borough in recent years, which looks set to increase further, as more houses are built.

“The extension and improvement of local rail services will bring more visitors to Ribble Valley, enhance employment and economic development opportunities, and take cars off our congested roads.”

Marjorie Birch, chairman of Ribble Valley Rail, added: “We are excited by any plan to improve rail services in the borough.

“We certainly need more trains and fewer cancellations between Clitheroe and Manchester and look forward to working with the council on this issue.”

The economic development committee has set out its views to Transport for the North, comprising the Government, Highways England, HS2 and business leaders, which is consulting on a proposed national strategy for rail services in the North until 2050.

It has also written to Lancashire County Council objecting to the proposed closure of the Clitheroe Interchange.

Ken Hind added: “Closure of the Clitheroe Interchange will result in the removal of a valuable and significant service from residents and visitors.

“The detailed advice that Interchange staff provide about rail travel and public transport would not be adequately replaced by an automatic machine.

“The Interchange makes public transport accessible in a borough with high levels of car-based commuting and a significant rural population using the town as a gateway to important services.

“Our community clearly values rail travel and we should be making it easier for them to use it, not harder.”

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