£50m Bus Scheme gets go ahead

26 March 2010

Pennine Reach Bus Route

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan has given initial approval for ‘Pennine Reach’, the £50m rapid transport scheme across Pennine Lancashire.

The new bus service is a joint scheme between Blackburn with Darwen Council, Lancashire County Council, and the highway authority for neighbouring Hyndburn, and has been designed to improve public transport between Accrington, Blackburn and Darwen.

Capita Symonds - Blackburn with Darwen Council’s strategic partner for highways, transport and property - will provide full multidisciplinary* services on the improved bus network. The route covers approximately 34.5km (21 miles) and comprises better buses and bus stops, two new bus stations in Blackburn and Accrington, dedicated bus lanes in congested areas, cycle lanes, and new customer car parks.

Specific features include:

  • All traffic signal control junctions will have enhanced signal equipment to provide bus and cycle priority measures at each junction of the main carriageway
  • Use of intelligent integrated systems to link with the respective authorities Urban Traffic Control and Management Systems
  • Flexibility in the finished scheme to allow for the infrastructure to meet the future year socio-economic needs of the area
  • Improvements in frequency, journey time and reliability, supported by comprehensive information and simplified ticketing arrangements to remove traditional barriers to public transport use.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said: “An efficient and reliable transport system is the lifeblood of every local community. This is why we’re investing significant amounts of money in East Lancashire’s infrastructure. The Pennine Reach scheme is exciting. With over half a million people living in and around the area this scheme will make it far easier for people without access to a car to get to work in Manchester, Preston or elsewhere in the region."

Councillor Alan Cottam, Executive Member for regeneration and environment, Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This is a significant investment across Pennine Lancashire and would not have been possible without the collaboration between ourselves and Lancashire County Council. We have worked hard to ensure that it remained a regional priority and it was a key part of the Pennine Lancashire Multi Area Agreement which was signed last year. By working together, we were able to make a better case for investment and show our determination to make a real difference to the lives of local people.”

“Pennine Reach will not only improve public transport across both boroughs, it will address the issue of the lack of parking spaces which many businesses have complained about for years and will support our vision for transport in the town centre and supports our plans for the cathedral quarter development,” he adds.

Ian Richardson, Director, Capita Symonds, said: “We have been working with partners on this initiative for over 10 years and we are very pleased to have reached this milestone. These are exciting times for Blackburn, Darwen and Hyndburn and this complete overhaul of public transport will bring new opportunities to the region that will strengthen Pennine Lancashire’s position as an area of investment and prosperity.”

Lancashire County Councillor Keith Young, Cabinet Member for highways and transport, said: "Pennine Reach will bring major improvements to the public transport network in the area, reduce journey times and improve the reliability of travelling by bus. It will also mean better access to jobs and training. By encouraging more people to switch to public transport, it will help to reduce traffic congestion on local roads and should lead to a reduction in carbon emissions.

He adds: "The project is an excellent example of working in partnership with other local authorities, and will help to boost regeneration and economic growth both in Hyndburn and across the Lancashire Pennine region."

Blackburn with Darwen Council and Capita Symonds, in conjunction with Lancashire County Council, carried out a wide ranging consultation exercise into the scheme last summer.