West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has received further assurances from the Department for Transport over the commitment to delivering Skelmersdale Railway.
Following the General Election, during which the Prime Minister promised the funding, MP Rosie wrote directly to Boris Johnson asking for further detail on his announcement and how the Skelmersdale project can access the money it needs to come to fruition.
The Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP replied on behalf of the Government to confirm that £500m has been pledged to start reopening lines closed following the Beeching report, reconnecting smaller towns, regenerating local economies and improving access to jobs, homes and education.
However, many residents expressed their lack of trust and confidence in the Prime Minister to actually deliver the project. Rosie, who has long campaigned for Skelmersdale Railway, understood the concerns of her constituents and made these clear to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport.
In response, Rosie has received the reassurances and continues to campaign to ensure that Skelmersdale Railway is delivered, she said “I can understand the distrust of residents of Skelmersdale who feel they have been let down and I made their feelings known to the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary and that my constituents will not accept broken promises.
“The Transport Minister responded to reassure me, and residents, that they were keen to work with Lancashire County Council to discuss the case for bringing a rail link to Skelmersdale and seeking Government funding.
“He stated that the initial £500m funding could be used to accelerate the development of schemes that are already being considered for restoration – something we are well on with here having already progressed the case for Skelmersdale Railway through the initial GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages. I am clear that I will hold the Prime Minister to his promise. A railway station in the heart of Skelmersdale will open up a world of economic and social opportunities for the town and its residents”.
That’s not strictly true, is it? It won’t open up a world of social opportunities for the elderly and disabled residents of Skelmersdale any more than it does all those others in West Lancashire who have been denied by WLBC and LCC the free off peak rail travel enjoyed by the City Regions that enjoy huge capital grants from central government.
If Shapps is really talking to LCC and working with them, surely now is the time for us no longer after about ten years campaigning, to be the “left behind” in off peak rail travel equality?