Calder Valley MP: Trains will be there on time

From left to right are: Todmorden ward councillor Steve Sweeney,  Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley, Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh and Labour supporter Ali Miles at Todmorden Railway Station
From left to right are: Todmorden ward councillor Steve Sweeney, Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley, Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh and Labour supporter Ali Miles at Todmorden Railway Station

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker expects the reinstated Todmorden Curve to be fully operational on time despite fears over a lack of trains.

Fears had been raised that the £8.8 million investment to reinstate the route - scheduled to be completed by May 2014 when Northern Rail’s Manchester Victoria to Rochdale service will be extended to Todmorden - would be undermined by a shortage of diesel trains.

But Mr Whittaker has said he expects the required diesel trains to be found by May, despite Northern Rail’s announcement earlier this month that it could be the end of 2014 before it can acquire the extra locomotives.

The news of the possible delay in making the line fully operational - to connect additional services between Manchester, Burnley and Blackburn - had been met with outrage from service users and politicians.

Last week Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh was at Todmorden Station - at the invitation of Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley- to talk to passengers about their experiences on the rail and listen to any concerns.

Mrs Creagh said: “We need projects like the Todmorden Curve to improve rail links between northern towns and cities, but to invest in this work only to find there aren’t enough trains to run on it is breathtakingly incompetent. “Labour would devolve decision-making on local public infrastructure to regions so that local people in Todmorden and around the country are in charge of delivering improvements to our transport infrastructure.”

Mrs Creagh said she was going to write to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Northern Rail and the chief executive of Network Rail in an attempt to resolve the issue. She also said she would be contacting three or four rolling stock companies to see if they have any spare diesel trains.

The news of the delay has also angered Mr Fenton-Glynn who said it needed to be resolved quickly to ensure the upper Calder Valley got the anticipated economic benefits as soon as the curve was reinstated.

Mr Fenton-Glynn said: “This incompetence is wasting millions of pounds of public money and making the daily commute take longer.

“Only this Government could spend millions on new tracks and find no trains to run on them.” But Mr Whittaker criticised the comments made by Mr Fenton-Glynn and Mrs Creagh and said it was just “politicking” from the Labour Party.

“This is a major investment by the coalition Government to open up a route that will bring incredible economic growth to Todmorden and what we should be doing is celebrating that fact rather than trying to bandwagon a certain issue,” said Mr Whittaker.

“There are a lot of people working closely on the train issue and I expect them to come up with a solution for when the trains are needed.”