Manchester link ‘crucial’, says MP
ROSSENDALE MP Jake Berry described reconnecting Rossendale and Manchester as ‘crucial’.
He said: “I regard this link as crucial not just for Rossendale but to the whole development of the Northern Powerhouse.”
Transport for the North is also officially considering the plans, and Mr Berry said: “This is the value of having the study done.
“The next big challenge is about getting Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to prioritise it and realise the significant growth it could bring to Manchester. Look at the economic growth in Rossendale since 2011, unemployment has been halved and more businesses than ever are setting up.
“My concern is that unless we solve many of the transport problems facing the Valley, it is going to stop further economic growth.
“This is not just about people going to Manchester to work from Rossendale but about Rossendale being able to access the skills of people from Manchester.”
Stephen Young, Lancashire County Council’s executive director of transport, said: “The County Council is committed to transforming transportation links particularly in Rossendale which is the only district in Lancashire without a station on the national rail network.
“We see this as essential in further driving our collective economic aspirations and are fully supportive of this proposal and study.”
The plans have also been supported by East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Chief executive Miranda Barker said: “We are really good at manufacturing in this area, but then when it comes to transportation it is expensive and slow.”
She supported a heavy rail link, rather than a tram, because she said it would provide skilled workers with the means of travel to Rossendale while also providing potential to assist the movement of goods both in and out.
Eden councillor Janice Johnson, a member of the East Lancashire Railway Trust Board, has also backed the plan.
She said: “A commuter rail link would be marvellous. We need public transport upgrading, not just for now but for future generations and we have to think outside the box.
“I remember my son-in-law coming home to Rossendale from work in Wythenshawe and he had seen eight accidents that day en route. As a result he moved out of Rossendale for work.”
However, Mike Kelly, chairman of East Lancashire Railway, said: “I haven’t seen the report yet or its contents, so I’m not in a position to comment.”
Rossendale MP Jake Berry (left) with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham