New rail link plan would be ‘fea­si­ble and cost ef­fec­tive’

Rochdale Observer - - SPECIAL REPORT -

PRO­POS­ALS for a new rail link could be on track af­ter a study found it was ‘fea­si­ble and cost ef­fec­tive’.

The line would run from Rochdale to Bury and Rawten­stall us­ing lines that were closed in the 1960s.

Politi­cians, busi­ness lead­ers and of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd, met with North­ern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry in Lon­don to up­date him on the find­ings of the early strate­gic case for rail in­vest­ment.

A let­ter signed by MPs and coun­cil lead­ers has gone to the Trans­port for the North (TfN) call­ing for the link to be in­cluded in its forth­com­ing In­vest­ment Pro­gramme

Five op­tions were eval­u­ated in the re­port and three would con­nect back to na­tional rail net­work through a new track from the East Lan­cashire Rail­way terminus in Hey­wood - link­ing Rochdale to Bury, Rams­bot­tom and Rossendale.

Rochdale Coun­cil leader Coun­cil­lor Allen Brett said: “As a bor­ough we ben­e­fit from ex­cel­lent trans­port links and are well con­nected to both pub­lic trans­port and the na­tional motorway net­work.

“How­ever, it’s no se­cret that some parts of Rochdale bor­ough are much bet­ter served by pub­lic trans­port than oth­ers.

“We are al­ready cam­paign­ing for a tram stop con­nect­ing Mid­dle­ton to Manch­ester and would also sup­port any rail link, such as the pro­posed Rossendale to Manch­ester line, which will bet­ter con­nect Hey­wood with the rest of our bor­ough and also with Bury and Manch­ester.”

The re­port de­scribes a ‘promis­ing op­tion’ as a peak pe­riod shut­tle ser­vice be­tween Rawten­stall and Bury us­ing the East Lan­cashire Rail­way and a new heavy rail link from a dis­used plat­form at Bury Bolton Street Sta­tion to Castle­ton.

Mar­ket­ing and Cam­paigns Di­rec­tor of Greater Manch­ester Cham­ber of Com­merce Chris Fletcher said: “The abil­ity to move peo­ple and freight around a lot eas­ier will be­come even more im­por­tant over the com­ing years to en­er­gise lo­cal economies and boost growth.

“Get­ting the bal­ance right of im­prov­ing ex­ist­ing con­nec­tions and build­ing new links is cru­cial if the re­gion’s econ­omy is to reach its full po­ten­tial.

“We hear a lot about the North­ern Powerhouse but the truth is un­less we can re­lease the locked-up po­ten­tial then it will never be­come a re­al­ity.

“This scheme could form an im­por­tant part of that equa­tion not just for the im­me­di­ate towns in­volved but much fur­ther afield.”

●●Pro­pos­als for a rail link to con­nect Rochdale with Bury and Rossendale

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