PROPOSALS which would increase the number of rail services between Bolton and Manchester have been turned down by the Government.

Blackburn with Darwen Council lodged a bid for £8 million of Whitehall cash to increase the regularity of trains travelling from Blackburn and Manchester, via Bromley Cross.

But the Department of Transport has refused the bid, saying the scheme was "not under consideration".

Blackburn Council leader Cllr Colin Rigby said East Lancashire was being neglected in favour of more affluent areas.

He said: "The tragedy is if this was down in Oxfordshire, they would be chucking millions at us. It's the way politics works that the South seems to get the cash. We have to get that transport link opened up."

Northern Rail, which runs the service, currently operates half-hourly trains at peak times, but only hourly for the rest of the day.

The upgrade would make the service half-hourly Monday to Saturday and add more carriages to increase capacity at busy times.

Central to the scheme is a mile-long stretch of single track between Darwen and Bromley Cross, which would be doubled to reduce delays.

Signalling would be improved and better rails would be added at Turton.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw has tried to reverse the Government' s decision.

He said: "I am having a meeting with the railway minister. I will keep on going until we succeed."