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New East Lancs service hit by six month delay

The introduction of East Lancashire’s long-awaited faster train service to Manchester has been delayed by at least another six months, to the fury of local politicians who have blasted the “sheer incompetence” of Network Rail and Northern.

According to Network Rail, signalling work on the Todmorden Curve will not be completed until February with the new service now not starting until May 2015.

Although the new track for the Curve was built earlier this year, and part of the signalling has been installed allowing services to run in one direction, the line will need to be closed “for a short period” to allow engineers to complete work allowing trains to run in both directions.

“We need to close the line for a short period of time which will mean disrupting services and passengers. We have been working with Northern Rail to agree a time to do this which meets the requirements of both organisations,” said a Network Rail spokesperson.

“It is proposed that the signalling work is completed by February 2015 with the line open fully in time for the timetable change in May.”

However, this news has sparked much local anger. Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Burnley Council, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “This is completely unacceptable and to say we are angry and disappointed is an understatement.

“We are absolutely clear – this further delay is down to the sheer incompetence of Network Rail and Northern Rail. We expect them to deliver what they’ve been paid for. They have been paid almost £6.5m to deliver a railway line that’s going nowhere at the moment. How ridiculous.”

The latest setback follows an announcement in 2013 that there wouldn’t be a diesel train available for the new service to start in May 2014 and was put back, originally until December.

The DfT has not responded to the latest setback beyond reiterating that the project is being managed by Lancashire County Council and that all parties are trying to introduce passenger services “as soon as possible”.

Northern Rail added that it is looking to introduce the new service ‘as soon as practically possible’ once the signalling work is complete.

(Image: c. Ryan Taylor. Creative Commons)

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