MPs are calling for improvements to the Blackburn to Bolton train service, with suggestions to double the track to increase capacity and increase hourly daytime services to every half hour.

In a debate in the House of Commons, Blackburn’s Labour MP Jack Straw and Conservative Darwen and Rossendale MP Jake Berry both backed the plans. Conservative Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is also supporting the campaign.

Straw said: “The problem is there are too many passengers for the service. The rush hours are absolutely jam-packed. Because of the single-line track for most of the way between the two towns, it is impossible for Network Rail and Northern Rail, who run the service between them, to increase the service to a greater frequency except in the peaks.”

Berry added: “It is vital to improve our public transport links to Greater Manchester. It is key to our prosperity in our area for people living here and to compete with places in south Manchester in encouraging high earners to move to the area and commute to Manchester.”

The councils have commissioned Network Rail to carry out a feasibility study into possible improvements, which is due to be presented in the summer or autumn. The initial estimate for the cost of the work is £15m.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Network Rail believes that it would be possible to double the off-peak train frequency and improve the overall performance without impacting on the current situation, by extending the existing loop at Darwen station.”

The line would also require an upgrade to the level crossing at Turton, which currently has a 15mph speed restriction for trains.

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for Rail Technology Magazine an independent technical trade journal for the UK rail industry offering a wide view of rail news views and opinions, he also writes for a rail jobs board reporting on the latest trends in rail recruitment