Action call over rail link delay gathers pace

Rail works on Todmorden Curve
Rail works on Todmorden Curve

Two more transport operators have joined the effort to get trains running on the reinstated Todmorden Curve rail link as soon as possible.

As reported in last week’s Todmorden News, a lack of rolling stock means that it could be late 2014 before spare diesel trains become available and enable services between Manchester, Burnley and Blackburn to run via the curve.

Operator Northern Rail said it is working with the Department of Transport on options for obtaining the required trains.

Now Metro and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have offered their support to get the additional services operating via the Todmorden Curve as soon as possible.

Metro chairman Coun James Lewis said: “The good news is that electrification of routes in the north of England and elsewhere will release some diesel trains for use on routes such as this.

“The problem is that the Todmorden Curve will be ready for use before those trains are available.

“Metro and TfGM are working with the train operator, Northern, to free up stock so that the new track can be used to provide quicker links between Manchester and Burnley via Todmorden.

“We’re also working together to improve frequencies and reduce journey times on this important trans-Pennine route, with more capacity and better trains.

“But the trains need to be available in the first place. That’s down to the operators, rolling stock companies and Whitehall.”

Coun Lewis said the situation of having new track in place but no trains to operate on the route supports the argument for local transport authorities having more control over their rail network.

“It’s a good example of how a ‘no-growth’ franchise awarded by the Department for Transport, coupled with a lack of long term planning on rolling stock, can render a key, local infrastructure project useless for its intended purpose for 12 months,” he said. “It’s just one reason why local transport authorities across the north of England want more control over our local rail network.”