A LABOUR government would 'look closely' at upgrading the heritage railway line from Bury to Rawtenstall to network status the Shadow Transport Secretary promised yesterday.

Andy McDonald was in the North-West on Monday to talk about the party's plans to boost rail and bus connectivity in the region.

He promised the East Lancashire railway line from Preston to Colne would be improved, electrified and extended across the Pennines to Skipton under a Labour government.

But he declined to make a similar firm commitment for the Bury to Rawtenstall line.

Northern Powerhouse minister and Rossendale MP Jake Berry, a strong supporter of the plan, branded his comments 'lukewarm'.

Mr McDonald said as he visited the heritage line with Rossendale Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes: "A new Labour government would look very closely at upgrading the Bury to Rawtenstall route to main network status.

"We would need to examine the case very carefully but I am not giving a firm commitment to the proposal today.

"We are committed to Transport for the North's £39billion long-term plan.

"Labour wants to see the re-regulation of buses in Greater Manchester and range of measures to improve public transport connectivity across the North-West.

"This would help ensure that the bus and rail networks provide as good a service to towns in Greater Manchester such as Bury, Bolton and Oldham as they currently do in Manchester city centre.

"We want to see people able to use the bus to come into Northern cites to work on public transport or indeed for residents of those cities to use it to get out.

"Improving rail, bus and tram services to get people out of their cars are vital to tackle air pollution and meet climate change targets.

"This is about improving the connectivity of the North-West which has been short-changed on transport by the Conservatives.

“We would look closely at a new network road link from Rawtenstall to Bury but I am not giving a cast iron commitment as with Colne to Skipton reopening."

Mr Berry said: "The government is committed to Transport for the North's long-term plan which includes upgrading the Bury to Rawtenstall railway line.

"This lukewarm support from Mr McDonald for this proposals suggests Labour is not serious about improving transport links into and from Bury and Greater Manchester."