Council’s double spark for rail link campaign
9:45am Monday 3rd September 2012 in News
A LONG-RUNNING campaign to improve rail links between Bolton and Blackburn has received a double boost.
Electrification and the restoration of the “double track” railway between the towns are options being investigated by transport chiefs.
Bolton Council has also agreed to seek an alliance to improve rail links and protect existing ones.
The council will work with Lancashire councils — such as Blackburn with Darwen and Ribble Valley — to launch a campaign for the replacement of the single line between Bromley Cross , Darwen and Blackburn with a double track, which was removed in the 1970s.
Town hall chiefs also want to protect existing links to Lancashire and further north to Scotland.
Councillors unanimously voted yes to the plans at a full council meeting.
The motion was tabled Cllr Normal Critchley, who represents Bromley Cross.
He said it would “bring benefits to Bolton and open up access to East Lancashire and beyond”.
It was revealed at the meeting that Network Rail — which owns and operates the country’s rail infrastructure — was already looking at improvements.
Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton Council ’s Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said upgrades could include either restoring the double track, installing “passing loops” — which would enable faster trains to overtake slower ones — or electrification of the line.
He said: “At the moment there is a capacity problem between Bolton and Blackburn.
“Having said that, Network Rail has started to evaluate how the rail network in East Lancashire can be improved and have already carried out some investigation work.”
Cllr Stuart Haslam, who represents Bradshaw , added: “Bolton should be the ideal main rail hub for not just Bolton, but also Bury with the coming of the new transport interchange — and also for the whole of Blackburn and North East Lancashire.
“That is another reason why the doubling of the Blackburn line is essential.”
Cllr Chadwick said loops or restoration of the double track could form part of the Northern Hub — a £322 million investment in the North’s rail infrastructure — in 2016.
But if electrification was favoured, that could happen between 2018 and 2020.