The Shadow Minister for Railways has slammed the Government for the delay in putting trains on Burnley’s new Todmorden Curve rail route.
Lilian Greenwood MP made the comments when she met Burnley’s Labour parliamentary candidate Julie Cooper at the town’s new Manchester Road Station.
The much-anticipated reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve, which would reduce journey times to and from Manchester, was completed in May, but has been unable to be utilised as there is no rolling stock available.
Mrs Greenwood said: “I think it’s absolutely crazy that the Government has allowed this to occur.
“Around £9m. has been spent on the Curve, which will eventually link communities and people to more jobs and training.
“Burnley people are rightly anxious that they are not seeing this benefit.”
Mrs Greenwood said it could be as late as January before trains become available, and blamed the knock-on effect from the Government’s handling of the West Coast Main Line franchise deal.
She added: “This led to delays which meant that trains had to be transferred from the north to the Chilterns.
“The Government should be working day and night to get trains running on this section. I will keep the pressure on the Government as I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the Burnley MP (Gordon Birtwistle) raise this issue in Parliament.”
Mrs Greenwood said that Labour planned to introduce a national policy forum so that there would be a body overseeing the rail industry, which at the moment was fragmented and with no oversight or planning she added.
The shadow minister also visited Accrington and Nelson where she met with rail campaigners who have been gathering a petition calling for stock to be returned to East Lancashire.
Coun. Cooper said the delays were costing the Burnley economy around £1m. per month.
She added: “Burnley people have been waiting years for the Todmorden Curve to be reinstated and now we have it there are no trains available. It is ridiculous and another example of the south taking precedence over the north.”