Faster rail link between Burnley and Manchester moves step closer

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THE long hoped-for reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve – to create faster rail links between Burnley and Manchester – is on track after Network Rail announced the project was feasible.

The rail company revealed it is halfway through an eight-stage process that will see the building of a new Todmorden Curve, but the project will need between £7.5m. and £8m. in funding.

Burnley Council has received the latest report and endorsed the company’s recommendations.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “This stage looked at all the engineering solutions possible and set out a number of options. It also recommended one particular solution as being the best and a report was sent to Burnley Council for consideration.

“It is now for the council and other funding partners to source the money needed to build the curve, estimated to be between £7.5m. and £8m.”

The spokesman added that once funds are secure it can move on to the next stage, which is doing the detailed design work, appointing a contractor to carry out the work.

If the funds can be sourced, trains could start running over the new curve in December 2013 (major changes to railway timetables always take place in December each year).

Burnley Council chief executive Steve Rumbelow said: “Everything is moving ahead really well and making good progress.

“The next step is the detailed design work, which will be commissioned this summer, and will be done even if we haven’t secured the capital funding.

“Obviously we have to get the funding in. Lancashire County Council has identified the Todmorden Curve as its top rail priority and so we will be asking the Local Enterprise Partnership to bid to the Regional Growth Fund.

“Even if that is successful, which we are hopeful it will be, there are still other issues to do such as finalising a business case. The Department for Transport will ultimately have to approve that. Overall, though, we are very optimistic.”

If the Todmorden Curve does go ahead it is estimated to generate £8m. a year, significantly boosting the economy of East Lancashire.