Now Burn­ham backs com­muter rail line cam­paign

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page -

A CAM­PAIGN Val­ley rail link has re­ceived an­other boost after Greater Manch­ester Mayor Andy Burn­ham sig­nalled sup­port.

A cross-party cam­paign sup­ported by lo­cal MPs, coun­cils and busi­nesses aims to re­store com­muter rail ser­vices from the bor­ough to Manch­ester and the back­ing of Greater Manch­ester’s Mayor is seen as vi­tal.

Mr Burn­ham has writ­ten a let­ter in re­sponse to Rossendale MP Jake Berry, pledg­ing his back­ing for the cam­paign.

It comes as the Mayor un­veiled plans this week to rad­i­cally im­prove the re­gion’s trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing ma­jor ex­ten­sions of the Metrolink tram net­work and new rail­way sta­tions.

In his let­ter, Mr Burn­ham said: “I fully sup­port the case to strengthen pub­lic trans­port links be­tween Rossendale and Greater Manch­ester and this will be re­flected in the 2040 GM Trans­port Strat­egy De­liv­ery Plan.

“With ref­er­ence to the Rawten­stall-BuryRochdale/Manch­ester Rail Study, I have asked Trans­port for Greater Manch­ester to en­gage with the work un­der­way, to un­der­stand any new ev­i­dence com­ing for­ward on op­tions to bet­ter link Rossendale and Greater Manch­ester and to keep an open mind in look­ing at all op­tions, whilst also recog­nis­ing the value of the East Lan­cashire Rail her­itage as­set.”

Last Novem­ber it was con­firmed that plans to re­store Rossendale’s rail link are now be­ing con­sid­ered by Trans­port for the North (TfN), the body formed by the Gov­ern­ment to trans­form the trans­port sys­tem across the north of Eng­land.

Mr Berry said: “Much of the de­ci­sion mak­ing about trans­port spend­ing pri­or­i­ties has been de­volved from cen­tral Gov­ern­ment to lo­cal ar­eas like Greater Manch­ester, so a pos­i­tive re­sponse from the Mayor is more good news for our cross-party cam­paign.”

Bury North MP James Frith is also sup­port­ive, but adds a note of cau­tion.

Mr Frith said: “I sup­port calls for Trans­port for the North to carry out a modern fea­si­bil­ity study into the pos­si­bil­ity of a rail link con­nect­ing Bury and Rams­bot­tom to Manch­ester and Rawten­stall. “I will not sup­port any scheme that puts at risk our bril­liant her­itage and com­mu­nity as­set, the East Lan­cashire Rail­way. My sup­port is con­di­tional on the nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion, en­hance­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity of the ELR who I will meet with again to dis­cuss this in de­tail.”

●» Greater Manch­ester mayor Andy Burn­ham

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