Closed South Ribble railway station could be in line for return journey as part of funding bid

A railway station in South Ribble that has not seen trains stopping at it for 60 years has rolled closer to a possible reopening.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 5:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 5:42 pm

Midge Hall station - on the Ormskirk to Preston line - is set to be the subject of a bid to the government’s Restoring Your Railways Fund.

If successful, it will see the Department for Transport (DfT) provide up to 75 percent of the costs of a £50,000 study to create a business case that would make the argument for the facility to be brought back into use.

Lancashire County Council has now said that it will match-fund any cash provided by the government for that assessment work.

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County Cllr Michael Green at Midge Hall railway station

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The fabric of the original station is still broadly intact and it lies within walking distance of a planned development of up to 950 homes on the site of the former Leyland test track - increasing the sustainable transport options for future residents of the estate.

A separate study commissioned last year by South Ribble Chorley and West Lancashire councils concluded that a reopened Midge Hall - which could be renamed Leyland West - would have a catchment area encompassing Moss Side, Walmer Bridge and Much Hoole.

It was one of three locations in the seven-mile ‘gap’ between Croston and Preston suggested as being suitable for a new station - the others being Parker Lane in New Longton and Cootle Lane in Lostock Hall.

However, it is Midge Hall that is the focus of the bid to government, which has been backed by South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher.

If a business case can be proven, a feasibility study would then have to be carried out to determine whether the project could ultimately be delivered. It is hoped that that station at Midge Hall could provide two services an hour to Preston.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning Michael Green said that the case for reopening the facility is “becoming stronger all the time as new developments in the surrounding area progress".

He added: “I'm very pleased that the county council has agreed to support this first stage of work towards delivering that goal.

"Reopening Midge Hall will improve sustainable transport options for thousands of people and help our progress towards Lancashire becoming carbon neutral. As such, I believe we have a very good case to put to the Department for Transport to develop an outline business case.

"The county council's offer to top up or match DfT funding through the Lancashire Economic Recovery and Growth Fund is vital to the bid to unlock the opportunity to progress this important scheme."

The recovery and growth fund is a £12.8m pot established last year to help kickstart the local economy as it recovers from the pandemic.