Complementing Burnley Manchester Road’s new station building, funded by Citizens’ Rail, the town now has a direct rail service to Manchester for the first time in four decades.
Following a multi-million pound investment and almost a decade of partnership work between Burnley Council, Network Rail, Lancashire County Council and Northern Rail, on Sunday 17th May 2015 the direct Blackburn to Manchester via Burnley service returned to the region.
Northern, a Serco and Abellio joint venture operated the historic first train, over 40 years after the closure of the Todmorden Curve in 1972, following the completion and opening of the line by Network Rail. This morning there was a community celebration at Burnley Manchester Road and Accrington stations to herald a new chapter in rail travel and the start of a range of benefits for the two communities.
Commuters were welcomed with tea, coffee, muffins and a ‘goodie bag’ at Burnley Manchester Road and Accrington stations, handed out by teams from Northern, Burnley Council, the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership and Lancashire County Council.
The scheme was part-funded from the government’s Regional Growth Fund. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
« This government is committed to transforming rail services across the North of England as part of our ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse. Todmorden Curve is an example of the significant investment being made in the region’s rail network, in order to provide more seats, more services and better journeys for passengers. It will make a real difference by opening up better access to job opportunities, helping to secure economic growth. »
Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern Rail, comments:
« We would be delighted to welcome our local community to our stations to help us and our partners celebrate this milestone in railway history. We’re committed to bringing better services, improved stations and a wealth of local opportunities to the region and this new service is a positive step in the right direction for all concerned. »
County Councillor 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. »
Councillor Mark Townsend, Leader of Burnley Council, said:
« We’re delighted to have a direct service to Manchester from Burnley once again. It 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. »
Get train times and tickets on Northern Rail’s Burnley-Manchester mini-website.