Multi-million pound planned upgrades to one of Hyndburn’s key roads have been set out.
Transport for the North (TfN) bosses said the M65 is one of seven ‘key corridors’ that need ‘strengthening and extending’ to bring the north west region up to the standard of London and the south east.
The organisation has been tasked by the Government’s transport secretary with developing a cohesive ‘strategic plan’ so it can bid for the road and rail infrastructure improvements.
MP Graham Jones has previously said there is support on both sides of the Pennines for a project to extend the M65 to meet with the A1M in Yorkshire, and transport secretary Chris Grayling ‘is not adverse at this stage.’
TfN chief executive David Brown addressed Hyndburn councillors at a recent full council meeting, and set out the following claims:
There has been ‘significant underinvestment’ in northern transport schemes ‘for decades’.
The M65 is one of the ‘key corridors’ needed to better connect East Lancashire and North Yorkshire.
They want to plan road and rail improvements which will last for 30 years.
Mr Brown said: “Our economic performance is lower than it should be because we’ve had an underinvestment in significant transport schemes in the north of England for decades.
“We have to produce one strategic plan so the north can then make the case for that investment.
“London has had one for 20 years and you see that there’s a lot of money funnelled into the south east and into London.
“That’s because they have one plan with a clear set of priorities and both public and private sector lobby government for the funding work.”
Council leader Miles Parkinson said ‘prosperity and connectivity’ are ‘crucial’ to the borough’s future.
He told the meeting: “We’ve seen the major investment at Manchester Airport and by the Chinese and that needs to be linked in like a spider’s web.”
Conservative council group leader Coun Tony Dobson said he would also like to see an extension of the tram service from Bury to Hyndburn.
New and refurbished trains also on the way
New train stock will arrive in Hyndburn by 2019, transport bosses have confirmed.
The old ‘pacer’ trains used by Arriva and TransPennine Express will be scrapped in two years’ time after managing the local rail services and franchises was passed to Transport for the North (TfN).
Hyndburn Mayor Peter Britcliffe said the area has been ‘treated like a third world country in terms of rail transport’.
Speaking at the recent full council meeting, he said: “In 2017 we still have the old pacers operating the line and when we got the Todmorden Curve in place it was actually delayed 12 months because there wasn’t the rolling stock.
“And even then we got second-hand cast offs from somewhere else.”
He added: “When I go to London I see bright, shiny new stock on all the lines.”
David Brown, TfN chief executive, said the government had ‘directed’ for pacer trains to be gone by 2019.
He told the meeting: “They will be replaced by a fleet of new trains and refurbished ones across the north. They will be newer than the ones you’ve got.
“That only happened because the whole of the north argued for that.”