Lancashire County Council has committed over £4.3m towards the next phase of work to provide a new rail link to Skelmersdale from the Wigan to Kirkby line.
Merseytravel will also contribute £0.76m towards the cost of a £5.1m ‘GRIP 3’ feasibility study, which is part of the rail industry’s formal process for delivering new projects.
It follows the completion in December 2016 of a study into the best place for the station, which recommended using the site of the former Glenburn High School.
The new study to be carried out by Network Rail will involve detailed work to develop the track design, and consider how it would interact with existing infrastructure such as roads and pipelines. It would also examine issues relating to electrification of the line, the remodelling of Kirby and Rainford stations, and the design of new stations at Skelmersdale and Headbolt Lane.
The decision to approve the study was taken today (Monday 13 March 2017) by County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport.
He said: “Linking Skelmersdale to the rail network will transform the town, and be a major catalyst for future commercial, retail and housing development.
“Improving connections and widening travel options is vital to extend the opportunities available to local people, and a rail service providing 30 minute journeys to Liverpool, and 60 minute journeys to Manchester would have a huge impact.
“We have already carried out feasibility studies which show that connecting Skelmersdale to the rail network should deliver good value for money, with a new station attracting between 600,000 and 1.3m passengers a year.
“We feel that the best route for funding the rail link and associated improvements would be through a Growth Deal, of the type which has been so successful in other parts of the county. It is estimated that this would be the largest Growth Deal bid Lancashire has put together so far.”
Work will also be carried out to refresh the previous ‘GRIP 2’ study, to include modelling a full timetable for services, and consider issues such as rolling stock.
Delivering a railway station for Skelmersdale is a key feature of Lancashire County Council’s West Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan. The plan also outlines proposals for a wholesale reconfiguration of the town’s transport network, ensuring the railway station is fully integrated with the bus network and easily accessible on foot or by cycle.
The Skelmersdale rail link is also recognised by other rail transport documents covering Merseyside.