Manchester rail link is vital for economy

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Network Rail’s recent announcement concerning the double-tracking of the railway line to Clitheroe should be good news for Ribble Valley train users.

What is not so good is the Department for Transport’s consultation document on the next Northern franchise which insists on a lower level of subsidy from the taxpayer.

As Serco Northern rail already receive a disproportionately high rate of subsidy compared with other train-operating companies, this will inevitably lead to fare increases and more radical measures which could include de-staffing and ticket office closures.

Furthermore, while the double-tracking could allow a half-hourly service, Serco Northern Rail’s inability to provide trains for a new Burnley-to-Manchester service via the recently restored Todmorden curve do not augur well for this.

The Clitheroe-to-Manchester line provides the only rail link to the Ribble Valley and is vital not only to the economy of the borough but to commuters and tourists and any changes will affect huge numbers of people. In an election year, the rail service is likely to be an important issue to many voters and it would be good to hear the views of MPs along the line about their commitment to improving the service.

Mr Evans has remained surprisingly quiet on the rail link to Manchester. Could he tell us if he believes it to be important to the people of the Ribble Valley and if so, if he will he call on the Department of Transport to revise its proposals for damaging reductions to the service?

Robert Snape,

Lower Lane, Longridge