THE next few months ‘may determine’ whether the restoration of the Burscough Curves ‘becomes a reality or remains an eternal wish list’ - according to a local councillor.
The government recently announced a £500million fund to kickstart the restoration of railway lines closed more than 50 years ago.
The money is hoped to reverse ‘Beeching Cuts’, which was a controversial plan in 1963 to increase the efficiency of the nationalised railway system in Great Britain.
Burscough Curve campaigners want the re-instatement of 1.4 miles of track at Burscough in West Lancashire that once linked the Southport-Wigan-Manchester and Liverpool-Ormskirk-Preston lines.
If given the go-ahead, the line could benefit around 300,000 commuters, which in turn would benefit the local economy, creating more jobs and helping to boost local business.
Southport Councillor John Pugh is calling on all parties to get behind a new drive to make it happen arguing that the window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
He said: “Everyone recognises the restored Curves would have huge benefits to Southport in terms of connectivity with Manchester, Preston and East Lancashire - and other areas would undoubtedly benefit - but there’s always a huge gap between seeing the potential and realising it.
“The creation of a £500 million government fund to reverse Beeching Cuts is the latest and perhaps the last hope. The odds currently though are not in our favour and no-one in the rail industry is holding their breath on this one.
“We have to give it our best shot and get the government to do more than raise expectations. £500 million on railway projects across the country won't go far in reversing the Beeching Cuts.
“My concern is that those new to the idea don’t appreciate the obstacles that will be put in our way or even what needs doing. We in Southport need to smarten up and embark on a concerted push to stop current hopes turning into a cruel political tease.
“At the moment the government seem to be favouring better rail links for Skelmersdale. Does anyone think they’ll finance two big projects in the same corner of Lancashire? Only one of those helps Southport.
“Being brutal, I think even supporters of the scheme sometimes have only a very vague idea of what the scheme is and civil servants in the Department of Transport will struggle to find Burscough on the map. We need to change that and quickly.”
As part of his push, a new video has been released explaining the project. You can view this at https://is.gd/40qGJP