The countdown is on until a direct train link from Accrington to Manchester opens is now on.
It is believed that services to Manchester will start running from May 17 and an adult return will be priced at £9.80.
A year on from completion of the track, signalling work on the long awaited £8.8m Todmorden Curve is set to be completed this weekend and the stretch of track will be handed over to operators Northern Rail on Monday, February 9 for driver training.
Accrington’s struggling commuters, councillors, businesses and MP have all long bemoaned the successive delays to the opening of the line which was expected in May last year.
The curve, which will slash journey times to Manchester from 90 minutes to 45, is viewed as central to providing ‘jobs, growth and opportunity’ to the town and the Observer in conjunction with Hyndburn MP Graham Jones have been campaigning for the past year to get trains running.
Mr Jones said that the link would be ‘transformational’ for the borough.
He said: “I have been pursuing this issue relentlessly for eight years and I have been doggedly pursuing it with the government at every opportunity.
“I have also been lobbying to ensure that the service goes through The Ordsall Chord and on to Manchester Airport and the government have assured me that this is possible.
"I have also managed to ensure that there will be a stop service so that the people of Church and Oswaldtwistle will be served with an off peak service to Manchester."
Council leader Miles Parkinson added: "It has been a long wait, but it is a major thing to have that connectivity to the world through Manchester Airport."
Conservative group leader Peter Britcliffe said: “There have been problems and delays but let’s look at it this way, we are getting something which we never thought we would have. It is great news for the Hyndburn economy.”
Rail bosses confirmed that the 300 metre stretch of track, which has not had trains running on it for almost five decades, will be operational for May.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Work to complete the installation of signalling on the new Todmorden Curve took place over the weekend, with final commissioning completed by February 9”.
Northern Rail will then begin driver training, with services operating from the timetable change in May.”
A Northern Rail spokesman added: “We have been working closely with our partners to introduce a new service from Manchester as soon as possible.
“We hope to start route-learning for our train crew as soon as the signalling work is completed.”