Business case put forward for Skelmersdale rail plans

Plans for a new railway line and station in Skelmersdale has taken a step forward.

A business case for improved transport including better connectivity to regional centres of Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, opening up job, education and training opportunities, as well as new leisure activities, have been submitted to the government.

The proposals for better links to major town and cities will encourage business development in the town, supporting both new and existing developments, providing a catalyst for regeneration and future investment, leading to lasting transformational change.

It would also significantly contribute to decarbonisation, local air quality, healthy and active travel agendas.

Options for the new rail link would connect Skelmersdale to the existing Liverpool Central – Kirkby – Wigan Wallgate railway line costing between £210m to £700m.

Estimated journey times for Town Centre station options would be 35 minutes to Liverpool Central and 18 minutes to Wigan Wallgate.

The submission to government will look for agreement to move to the next stage of the development process.

The Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) has been developed by Lancashire County Council, working in partnership with organisations including Merseytravel, Network Rail and West Lancashire Borough Council.

The county council has also worked closely with the Department for Transport in relation to developing and finalising the SOBC and has followed their guidance to ensure that all available options have been appropriately appraised.

County Councillor Charlie Edwards, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This is an important stage of the highly-detailed and lengthy process which we need to go through to bring these major rail improvements for people in the town.

“Improving the public transport network will help to encourage regeneration in the area and make the town a more appealing place to live, work, visit and invest.

“By providing a high-quality sustainable public transport service, it reduces the need for some car journeys, which reduces emissions and traffic levels.

“Skelmersdale is a unique part of Lancashire due to its radical design as a New Town in the 1960’s. Unfortunately as the town grew, the rail link was never reinstated.

“In recent years, the county council has been working to increase transport options, which will open up new opportunities for people who live and work in the town.

“We are hoping that the people of Skelmersdale will fully support this plan and we will be pushing the case for this and other rail investment across Lancashire in our conversations with Government.”

The line would link Skelmersdale up once again with the rail network, which was closed to passengers in November 1956.