Published March 19, 2019 at 15:07
A steering group will lead on the planning and delivery of the proposed commuter rail link from Rossendale to Manchester, with stops along the way at Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury and Heywood.
The Valley City Link group brings together MPs Jake Berry, Liz McInnes and James Frith; representatives from Rossendale, Bury, Rochdale and Lancashire County Councils; Transport for Greater Manchester; Greater Manchester and East Lancashire Chambers of Commerce and local business leaders.
The members met for the first time on Friday, March 8 at Rossendale Council’s offices at Futures Park.
The move to formalise planning of the rail link comes after a recent study commissioned by Rossendale Council in partnership with Lancashire County Council, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, found the route was ‘feasible and cost effective’.
Rossendale is currently the only borough in Lancashire without a national rail link and struggles with severe congestion on the A56 and M66 at peak times.
Similar issues are experienced by commuters in Ramsbottom and Heywood who are also without a rail connection.
The study found that 14,000 Rossendale residents travel daily to work with 9,000 going into the Greater Manchester area. It concluded that there is passenger demand from Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury and Heywood for a rail link to Manchester.
Councillor Alyson Barnes, Leader of Rossendale Council, said:
We will continue to press for the much needed funding to advance this project, which will continue with the production of a strategic outline business case.
With a reported £70 billion being spent by Transport for the North across the north of England it is only fair that the Valley City Link corridor, which could connect 200k residents in Rossendale, Bury and Rochdale, is given the due support that it needs.
Iain Taylor, Chair of the Valley City Link group, said:
It is essential that we work with East Lancashire Railway, local people, Councils and business to make the best possible case for future investment in what I think is a hugely exciting opportunity for Rossendale.
Chris Fletcher, Marketing & Campaign Director at Greater Manchester Chambers of Commerce, said:
This scheme is vital in opening up a new transport route that will make journeys easier as well as create new opportunities for businesses to grow and expand.
Miranda Barker, Chief Executive, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce:
The lack of effective connectivity is in real danger of stifling Rossendale’s potential and mustering the support & funding for the rail link is key to unlocking the economic potential for the area.
Stephen Young, Executive Director of Growth, Environment, Transport & Community Services at Lancashire County Council, said:
We’re pleased to be working with our partners on the early stages of this process, which could bring these transport improvements to Rossendale.
As a county council we’re clear that by helping people to get around, we can help to open up new opportunities for people and businesses.
Map of the proposed Valley City Link: