Time to restore Gisburn’s railway station?

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It is good to see Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is very supportive of the re-opening of the White Bull, Gisburn. However, the chances of the business’s success would be far better had Gisburn’s railway station been restored as announced on May 14th, 1989, along with the station at Chatburn.

Many people think of Gisburn as a small village, which indeed it is, but Gisburn would be the rail head for Bolton by Bowland, three caravan sites and most significantly, Barnoldswick – collectively around 15,000 people.

This would ensure prosperity, as well as providing a major boost to Ribble Valley tourism.

In 1991, Lancashire County Council costed the work required at Gisburn station to be just £30,000 (the same as Chatburn). However, to their lasting shame, neither LCC or the Conservatives have shown any interest in honouring their very public commitments to the electorate of the Ribble Valley, despite both of them making innumerable statements on the benefits of public transport and constantly urging everyone to use it.

The severe inconvenience inflicted on those living in the Gisburn area is best illustrated by comparing a journey to Hellifield in 1954 compared with 2014.

In 1954, the 6.25 mile rail journey could take as little as eight minutes and today would cost £2.90. Passengers had a range of services to choose from, from before 7 am until after 9 pm.

Today, the average bus journey for the same distance takes 64 minutes going and 68 minutes coming back and the bus fare is an astonishing £12.70.

In January, 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, urged local authorities to apply for 75% funding to re-open railway stations under the headline “The Beeching Cuts Must Be Reversed”.

To their lasting shame, neither Ribble Valley Borough Council nor Lancashire County Council applied – why not?

LCC and the Government have failed to act in the public interest and have failed in their duty to the residents of the Ribble Valley.

LCC is quite happy spending £12m on providing Accrington and Blackburn’s new bus stations and the Government has given £30m to improve the bus routes around Accrington and Blackburn.

With May, 2015, drawing ever closer, Mr Evans would do well to ensure the Conservative Government honours its previous commitments to the people of the Ribble Valley and does not take their vote for granted. Gisburn station would be used by the constituents of three Conservative MPs – Pendle, Ribble Valley and Skipton and Ripon.

Peter J. Brass

Friends of the Blackburn to Hellifield line