£40m Pennine Reach bus scheme wins funding bid

TRANSPORT in Lancashire has been given a boost with the Government announcing £32m towards the cost of the Pennine Reach project.

The £40m scheme, led by Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is a rapid bus transport scheme which is aimed at improving public transport along the Accrington, Blackburn, Darwen corridors linking in with the strategic east-west and north-south railway lines.

It will  result in new high quality buses, improved routes, frequencies and ticketing options, modern bus stops, real time travel information and new bus stations at Accrington and Blackburn. Work on the scheme is due to start in 2013 and be completed in 2016.

The Lancashire project is one of 21 sharing £854m worth of investment announced by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.

She said: “Almost all journeys begin and end on local authority networks, which provide the crucial links that allow people and businesses to prosper.

“We are investing in schemes that will provide better access to jobs and services, reduce congestion and enable more goods to move more easily around our country. This will be £1.4bn invested in local communities to build the transport system we need to get the economy back on track.”

Cllr Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport at Lancashire County Council, said the funding was ‘excellent news’.

“Making it easier for people to travel quickly and reliably are among the primary factors for achieving economic growth and Pennine Reach will make a real difference to regeneration in East Lancashire.

“Many people do not have cars and other people who do own cars would choose to use public transport if the buses are quick and reliable, and the bus stations are clean and comfortable.

“Pennine Reach will allow more people to access jobs and education opportunities and make east Lancashire a more attractive place for people to live and work and companies to invest,” he added.