Electric trains to run between Clitheroe and Bolton
It is one of 12 lines in the North listed for priority by the Electrification Task Force, an independent cross-party body created in 2013 to determine how electrification could deliver greater economic growth in the region. The Colne-Preston line is another of the 12.
The group’s report to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, called for electrification to be delivered from 2019 to 2024.
The final decision on whether to go ahead is down to Network Rail.
Peter Eastham, secretary of the Ribble Valley Rail users’ group, said: “It’s the latest bit of positive news for the line. Electric trains all the way to Manchester would be quicker, cleaner and quieter.
“If it didn’t go ahead, we would be left as an island of diesel trains among the northern electrified lines, with just a diesel shuttle service.”
Ribble Valley Rail is holding its annual meeting next Saturday afternoon at Trinity Church Hall, Parson Lane, when the main speaker is James Syson of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s transport strategy team leader.
County Coun. John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We are beginning to see the transformation of the Lancashire network through the Northern Hub/NW electrification project and the benefits this brings.
“These include faster journeys and improved connectivity.”
The Electrification Task Force examined 32 routes in the North, grouping them into three tiers for prioritisation based on their contribution to the economy, how they fit with other schemes, and the number of kilometres of diesel running they would replace. Clitheroe-Bolton is in the first tier.
The task force is now recommending that outline business cases should be produced for the proposed schemes.
Transport Secretary Mr McLoughlin said: “I want to see a rolling plan for further electrification and this study will have a vital part to play in setting the agenda for 2019 and beyond.
“Network Rail will take the task force’s findings into account as it develops its nationwide plan to improve the nation’s railways.”
Improvements costing £7.5m are due this summer on the Clitheroe-Bolton line, with some single track sections being converted back to double track, and upgrades with information screens installed at all stations.
Northern lines already being electrified include Liverpool-Wigan and Manchester-Bolton-Preston-Blackpool.