Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Direct Accrington to Manchester rail link to be reinstated.

I  welcome the £8.8m Regional Growth Fund spend on the direct rail link to Manchester which will see the the Todmorden Curve reinstated.

The reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve is something I have campaigned on years, and it is great news for the residents of Hyndburn. This improved connection with Manchester and the South will make Hyndburn a viable part of Manchester’s commuter belt, and allow the area to take full advantage of the economic opportunities this brings.

Average weekly wages in Hyndburn are around £390, whereas they are average £500 in Manchester.

The Curve will be a huge improvement on the bus service, making journeys to Manchester shorter and more reliable, reversing the terrible legacy of the Tory Beeching cuts, which cut Hyndburn’s rail link and doubled commuter times. This decision should go some way to restoring the infrastructural link which existed before 1962.

The Beeching Cuts were the cuts to British Rail made in the 1960s, which resulted in the closure of thousands of miles of train track, and left communities up and down the country unconnected to major economic hubs by rail. Hyndburn’s connection to Manchester was cut in 1962.

The reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve has the potential to bring in regeneration money, as Accrington becomes only 40 minutes away from Manchester. But there is potential for much more. If the council get the town centre strategy right, in particular regarding the heritage funding bid, then there is a fantastic opportunity for Accrington to become an attractive destination.

Provisional timetabling allows for an hourly service between 7am and 11pm. In my conversations, Northern Trains have expressed a good deal of interest in running the service. Pricing, the number of stops and the quality of rolling stock are all issues that need to be considered to ensure this is a resopunding success.