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Merriman and MPs discuss re-opening northern section of Ribble Valley line

Deniz Huseyin
25 January 2024

Transport minister Huw Merriman has met with Lancashire MPs to discuss the reopening of the Clitheroe to Hellifield section of the Ribble Valley line, which was closed in 1962 during the Beeching cuts.

The section of the line north of Blackburn has remained open for freight while the section between Blackburn and Clitheroe was reinstated in 1994 after a public campaign.

Merriman and the MPs for the Ribble Valley and Pendle, Nigel Evans and Andrew Stephenson, discussed the possibility of money from the scrapped northern leg of HS2 funding the re-opening of Clitheroe to Hellifield section.

A partnership led by Ribble Valley Borough Council want the line to be reopened along with stations at Chatburn, Rimington, Gisburn and Newsholme, with trains running from Clitheroe to run southwards to Leeds after arriving at Hellifield, rather than continuing north to Carlisle.

In 2021 a Strategic Outline Business Case, put together by consultancy Stantec on behalf of Ribble Valley Borough Council, was submitted to the DfT. The bid was funded by the Government’s Restoring Your Railway fund.

Stantec’s report suggested it was clear a passenger service between Clitheroe and Hellifield (as an extension of existing Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe services) could be reinstated in the short-term with little or no need for additional infrastructure.

A Ribble Valley spokesperson told LTT: “The closure of the section between Clitheroe and Hellifield effectively separated Yorkshire and Lancashire, and Manchester and Leeds. The line is still used for freight, so there is a strong case for re-opening the line, along with the stations.”

The report estimates the potential for 80,000 extra passengers a year to frequent the line if trains from Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe were extended to Hellifield.

A number of options were outlined in Stantec’s report including: extending all Clitheroe-bound trains to Hellifield; extending alternative Clitheroe trains to all stations up to Garsdale; two trains per hour to Clitheroe, with one every two hours to Garsdale; two trains per hour to Clitheroe and one every two hours extending to Ribblehead; and two trains per hour to Clitheroe and one per hour extending to Settle Junction.

Find out more about these and other developments at Rail Stations + Property on 5 March in London, organised by Landor LINKS, sponsored by Burges Salmon and supported by LTT.

The event will focus on: changing travel patterns, including the resurgence of leisure travel; stations as hubs, with a focus on mobility hubs; and transport-led development with a spotlight on major UK projects.


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