ELECTRIFICATION of one of the railway lines between Liverpool and Manchester could throw a lifeline to East Lancashire’s delayed inter- city service.

Talks have been ongoing after the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that no diesel trains were available for the new Blackburn-Burnley-Manchester Victoria service next May.

Work has been progressing well on the reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve, which will provide an improved service to the city, also calling at Accrington, Rosegrove and Todmorden.

And engineers are at the halfway point in repairing the Holme Tunnel, at Cliviger, as it was anticipated that traffic would at least double on the Burnley to Todmorden line.

Councillors in Burnley have continued to press the authorities over the prospect of trains being deployed on the line this spring. But Coun Shah Hussain, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said in a full council report that a May start was still not on the cards. It is hoped the service will begin this December, when next winter’s timetables get underway.

He said: “Members can be assured we have held discussions with both the rail operator, Northern Rail, and the Government but at this stage rolling stock to commence the service in May has not been identified.

“The electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester line later in the year will ‘liberate’ rolling stock for use on the rail link.”

Network Rail is set to hand over the track development to train operator Northern Rail later next month when signals testing is complete.