In 1989, the Conservatives announced the re-opening of the Blackburn to Hellifield line including six stations.
In 1994, the line was opened as far as Clitheroe, but Chatburn and Gisburn remained closed, despite the repair work being costed at only £30,000 per station and there are still no daily services to Hellifield.
This places severe limitations on travel between Craven and the Ribble Valley and severely restricts access to the jobs market. Daily services to Hellifield would allow Ribble Valley “voters” to work anywhere along the Aire Valley, right through to Leeds. This would allow Craven residents much better access to jobs in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and large parts of the North West. It would also make it easier for vast numbers of tourists from Greater Manchester and Lancashire to access Craven and the Yorkshire Dales.
Most train arriving in Clitheroe wait half an hour before returning to Manchester. All these trains could serve Chatburn and Gisburn at a minimal cost and others could run through to Hellifield at items when there are good connections. Despite urging people to search for jobs and the fact rail travel must play a key part in keeping this possible, we feel the government are not doing enough for the loyal voters of the Ribble Valley and Craven.
Many thousands of new houses are underway or authorised for the Ribble Valley meaning there will be a huge demand for better public transport, due to the fact over 90% of the new residents must travel out of the area to find work.
To rub salt in the wounds of the loyal Ribble Valley Conservatives, our government have given Accrington and Blackburn £30m. to improve bus services around the two towns and Lancashire County Council have provided £11.9m. for two new bus stations. The Accrington bus station is costing 213 times the original cost of opening Chatburn or Gisburn stations (just how much can you improve a five-mile bus journey between Accrington and Blackburn?) It is now many years since the late Ken Hargreaves represented the Conservatives in Accrington and perhaps Mr Cameron could tell us when the Conservatives last had a MP for Blackburn.
Perhaps the Conservatives could follow the example of the largest multi-national or even the smallest local businesses, most of whom are keen to look after their loyal supporters with a variety of incentive schemes.
Friends of the Blackburn to Hellifield Line
c/o 60 Whalley Road, Clitheroe