A LONG awaited rail link in Skelmersdale has been given a major boost after it was revealed work on the scheme could be “accelerated” under a new funding application.
Better train access for the town has been talked about for many years, with MP Rosie Cooper campaigning for the project ever since she was first elected in 2005, claiming it would “open up a world of economic and social opportunities for Skelmersdale and its residents”.
The plans have now been given fresh hope after Lancashire County Council announced last week it had ‘put forward’ a number of projects which could be delivered quickly as part of a new call from Transport for the North for the government to fund schemes which could help the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Transport for the North wants to encourage more infrastructure projects to not only help local trade and employment following lockdown, but also encourage “greener northern growth”.
One of the projects put forward in Lancashire is a rail link to Skelmersdale. If successful, it would ensure funding is in place for detailed design work needed to progress proposals and ‘speed its delivery’.
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County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “We know the government is keen to invest in transport infrastructure, particularly where there is evidence that projects can be delivered quickly and that every pound spent will have a good return and give confidence to businesses.
“We’ve put forward a number of schemes as part of the Transport for the North Economic Recovery Plan which are at an advanced stage, and where an injection of cash now could lead to work on the ground being able to start quickly.
“These road, rail and sustainable transport improvements are needed to update our infrastructure and ensure Lancashire can meet the needs of residents and businesses as our economy recovers from the pandemic and grows over the coming years.
“There are a number of bigger schemes within Lancashire where we already have a business case in development to support them, but investment at this stage could really accelerate their delivery. These schemes, such as the Skelmersdale rail link, really do have the potential to transform opportunities for our communities and boost Lancashire's contribution to the UK economy."
The Champion reported in June how more than £2million has been pledged to demolish Skelmersdale College to make way for a future train station in the town.
Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet have approved the acquisition of the former college site and allocated funds to demolish the buildings along with additional costs in preparation of the station development.
It brought all the required land together for the train station, parking and retail development, in addition to the current work already being carried out by West Lancashire Borough Council and partners.
MP Rosie Cooper has previously said about the rail link proposition: “Residents have waited decades for adequate transport? links? and I have been campaigning for a train station for Skelmersdale since ?being? elected here in 2005.
“I have consistently said that a railway station in the heart of ?Skelmersdale? will open up a world of economic and social opportunities for the town and its residents.”??