Work has started on a major construction project which will lead to the reinstatement of a key trans-Pennine rail link.
Redevelopment of Burnley Manchester Road station began last week and is the first stage of the project to bring the Todmorden curve back into use.
Once the curve is reinstated, it will provide direct rail services between Burnley and Manchester, benefitting passengers in Todmorden who will no longer have to change trains at other stations.
Coun Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council, said: “It’s full steam ahead now to construct the station, which will accommodate the forecasted increase in passenger numbers when the Todmorden curve is re-opened.”
The reinstatement of the curve will allow direct services from Burnley to Manchester in less than an hour.
Dylan Crowther, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “Rail travel across the country is at an all time high and set to continue to grow.
“The new Manchester Road station and Todmorden curve will complement our plans for the north, including the northern hub and the redevelopment of Manchester Victoria, significantly improving services between the two centres.”
Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said it is fantastic that work has started.
“We’ll see a real boost to our economy,” he said.
“It will be easier for people to travel to Todmorden for work and to experience its stunning scenery, independent shops, excellent market and great walks.
“It will also be easier for people living in Calderdale to access jobs in Manchester.”
Calder ward councillor Janet Battye said the re-opening of the curve would make journeys much easier for passengers in Todmorden.
“To see them putting the spade into the earth is fabulous news,” she said.
“This will open up all sorts of opportunities for us locally.”
She will be keeping up pressure for a new station on the line at Cornholme.
Todmorden town councillor David Tattersall, who has been campaigning for a new station in the village since his election earlier this year, said it could lead to a regeneration of Cornholme.
“A station in Cornholme would put it in touch with population groups in excess of 5.5 million people,” he said.
“From Cornholme we would be able to get to the conurbations of Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Burnley and out to the Fylde coast and beyond.
“It would make it possible to travel to these centres for employment, cultural activities, shopping and all sorts of other activities. For the people of Cornholme, it would be a big advantage.
“We are very keen to get the rail service improved for the people of Todmorden.”
Redevelopment of the station is scheduled to be completed in March 2014.