There was a busy start to the first commuter services between Burnley, Accrington and Manchester for more than 40 years this morning.
The new service began on Sunday with free refreshments and goodie bags offered by operator Northern Rail. The first commuter services on Monday morning attracted strong passenger interest and media for the 52 minute ride from Burnley Manchester Road station to Manchester Victoria. The service will run every hour and costs £12.30 for a peak return from Burnley to Manchester.
Burnley Council, Network Rail, Lancashire County Council and Northern Rail spent a decade planning the reopening of the Todmorden Curve, a short stretch of line which closed in 1972, meaning passengers no longer have to change at Hebden Bridge as previously. The scheme was part-funded from the government's Regional Growth Fund.
Cllr John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "It is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved to re-establish the direct service from Burnley to Manchester which will extend opportunities for local people and have a real impact on the economy. It shows what can be achieved when partner organisations are clear about their priorities and work closely together to deliver them. The working relationships established will be instrumental in the ongoing transformation of rail services in East Lancashire. I look forward to the service being a great success, paving the way for better trains and faster journey times in the future."
Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said: ''[The service] will bring clear benefits to our economy in terms of access to the job market and establishing Burnley as a commuter town. Our outstanding countryside is even easier to reach for visitors. It's a real milestone in our continuing success story and one we wish to celebrate."
Terry Strickland, area director for Network Rail, said: "The reopened Todmorden Curve is a significant improvement to the railway in this part of the country and will allow services to run directly between Manchester Victoria and Burnley Manchester Road for the first time since the 1960s. We have worked closely with Burnley Council, Lancashire County Council and Northern Rail to make this happen and it is an excellent example of partnership working to help deliver a better railway for passengers."