Barnoldswick & Earby Times, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column: 15th September 2017

A focus of my work as our local MP is improving Pendle’s public transport system. One of the main things holding our local economy back is the M65 and our train line both ending in Colne, which suffers serious congestion as a result. 

I have been a Patron of Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) since 2010 as I feel reinstating the railway line between Colne and Skipton would be a major boost for our area. Proposals to reopen the Skipton-Colne line fit with the Government's policy of investing in infrastructure projects to bolster employment and the economy. Indeed, Transport for the North is to further-consider the Skipton–Colne line as it looks to improve connectivity in the Central Pennines. The last speech I gave in Parliament before the General Election was in support of reopening the line and I continue to raise this at every opportunity.

Even without this major investment, we are seeing the results of the government’s record investment in our railways. Thanks to Millions of pounds of Government investment the Todmorden curve opened in May 2015, facilitating direct train journeys from Burnley to Manchester for the first time in years. The next few years will see station improvements and all the hated Pacers trains gone, replaced by a mix of new and refurbished trains upgraded to an as-new standard. Great news for local rail passengers.

Meanwhile, many rely on buses to get around Pendle. I welcome the news that Lancashire County Council are investing an additional £1million into subsidised bus routes. Further announcements on this will be made soon.

Last month, I met up with Transdev’s Chief Exec, Alex Hornby to see their new £4.6 million investment in the Mainline service. The new fleet of buses launched in July and will help deliver over 3 million passenger journeys each year. I raised some local concerns, like there being no direct bus service between Earby and Skipton, which I feel should urgently be addressed, but overall was pleased by the investment which will be a real boost for local passengers. 

There is lots more to do so transport will remain a key issue for me in the coming months.