Campaigners hope curve will spring into life

The Todmorden Curve rail link
The Todmorden Curve rail link

Long-promised extra train services will not be running along the Calder Valley line until next spring at the earliest.

That is almost a year after they were first expected to run, following completion of around £9 million of work on the Todmorden Curve and other improvements, including the rail bridge at Windy Bridge, between Todmorden and Cliviger.

With timetabling now being finalised for the winter timetables, due in mid-December, infrastructure and service work would not be completed in time.

Calderdale Councillor Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said he had learned the news at a recent meeting of the Calder Valley Line Development Group, which included representatives from Manchester, Rochdale, Burnley and Calderdale.

He said the meeting was told promised extra services would not be available until spring for three reasons - there were problems with some faulty signalling, there were no trains and extra drivers had not been trained.

“The Todmorden Curve was meant to be a sign of things to come for the Calder Valley line.

“Instead it’s become a complete farce - no trains, poor signal work and no train drivers.

Senior Burnley Council official Mike Smith, who retired last month, had been involved in progressing the scheme since 2000, said the council was trying to knock heads together to get things moving regarding the signalling problem.

“At some point we’re trying to knock heads together to make it happen There are last minute glitches but a lot of money has been spent on all parts of the infrastructure over the last nine months, including bridges and parapet work,” said Mr Smith.

Mr Smith added that Blackpool service trains would not be using Todmorden station following final completion of the work. Extra services linking Blackburn with Manchester were planned, increasing trains to Manchester from Todmorden. But passengers will still have to access the west coast by linking up with trains at Hebden Bridge or Burnley.

Mike Kirby, director of transport and environment for Lancashire County Council said the council continues to press for the introduction of services as soon as possible, but it is unlikely that it will happen until 2015.

A Northern Rail spokesperson said: “We have been working closely with Lancashire County Council and other partners to introduce a new service from Manchester to Blackburn via the Todmorden Curve as soon as practically possible. To enable that to happen there is some work to complete on the signalling, once this has been done, we will be able to start driver route-learning. The diesel train needed to operate the service will become available when electric trains start to replace diesels elsewhere in the North West in the New Year.”