Following a £10 million pound investment, the eagerly anticipated Todmorden Curve project has been completed.
The scheme which involved the reinstatement of a 500 metre stretch of rail track, which has been closed since 1972, was completed in May 2015.
The completion of the project has ushered in the first direct service between East Lancashire and Manchester in more than 40 years. The route now allows passengers to travel on a direct service from Accrington to Manchester Victoria in 63 minutes, whilst a trip from Burnley to Manchester Victoria takes just 52 minutes.
The first train service on the Todmorden Curve route started on 17th May, with the first commuter service – the 0818 from Blackburn – taking place the following day. To celebrate the momentous occasion Burnley Manchester Road Station and Accrington Station provided passengers with tea, coffee and muffins.
Area Director for Network Rail, Terry Strickland, said:
“The reopened Todmorden Curve is a significant improvement to the railway in this part of the country and will allow services to run directly between Manchester Victoria and Burnley Manchester Road for the first time in decades.”
The new route is being seen as a vital catalyst for the local economy as it has successfully placed Burnley and Accrington within commuting distance of Manchester, opening up tourist, leisure and employment opportunities which were previously out of reach. Prior to the completion of the project the only way for passengers to travel from Burnley to Manchester was to switch trains at either Preston or Hebden Bridge.
The project – which involved a partnership between Burnley Council, Network Rail, Northern Rail and Lancashire County Council – was the subject of a local campaign and even had backing from the Deputy Prime Minister.
County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said:
“It is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved to re-establish the direct service from Burnley to Manchester which will extend opportunities for local people and have a real impact on the economy. It shows what can be achieved when partner organisations are clear about their priorities and work closely together to deliver them.
“The working relationships established will be instrumental in the ongoing transformation of rail services in East Lancashire. I look forward to the service being a great success, paving the way for better trains and faster journey times in the future.”
Councillor Mark Townsend, Leader of Burnley Council, said:
“We’re delighted to have a direct service to Manchester from Burnley once again. It will bring clear benefits to our economy in terms of access to the job market and establishing Burnley as a commuter town. Our outstanding countryside is even easier to reach for visitors. It’s a real milestone in our continuing success story and one we wish to celebrate.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail, said:
“We’re committed to bringing better services, improved stations and a wealth of local opportunities to the region and this new service is a positive step in the right direction for all concerned.”
Work on the Todmorden Curve project was delivered by main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd. Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd has been in operation for the best part of 60 years and provides a range of stand-alone and integrated services, from civil engineering to facilities management and rail.
Over the past 15 years Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd has built up a strong track record of delivering complex rail projects. To support all its operations Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd holds a full Network Rail Principal Contractor License as well as relevant Link Up Certification.
Haigh Rail Ltd
Haigh Rail Ltd was established in 2011 by Christopher Haigh, initially as a rail division, to undertake works in track and P-way related projects, based in Chorley. Following a successful couple of years, the firm decided to expand the business by introducing a welding division and opening an office in Doncaster to support this expansion.
Since their inception Haigh Rail have worked on a number of successful projects including Track CRE services at Water Orton on behalf of Network Rail. During this project the firm successfully managed the installations of circa 170 IBJ’s, recovered 140 IBJ’s and installed 95 Hollow Bearers.
The firm have also worked for Network Rail and Siemens in Walsall again working as the Track CRE, installing and recovering 188 IBJ’s and undertaking 36 point conversions alongside SRA.
Another project carried out on behalf of Network Rail was Shrewsbury to Crewe Resignalling which involved 100% weekend working to recover 105 IBJ’s over a 21 week programme.
Working on the Todmorden Curve project, the Haigh Rail team were involved in the planning, the methodology, and the P’way installation work of a new 400 meter curve, a crossover and a turnout. They also supplied track welding, grinding, stressing, tamping and handback services. Chris Haigh, Managing Director of Haigh Rail Ltd commented:
“This project is important to us as it is expanding our current client list, building client relationships and developing our portfolio of works.
“We pride ourselves on delivering work on time, to budget and above all else safely.”