THE Leeds and Liverpool Canal’s historic industrial use will be brought back into action to transport goods during building work to replace a Victorian railway bridge.

The bridge in between Rishton and Church and Oswaldtwistle stations will be replaced as part of Network Rail’s £3.95million investment to improve links on the East Lancashire line.

The vital work means sections of the railway between Blackburn and Colne, including Accrington and Todmorden, will be closed between February 15 and 23.

Sarah Padmore, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “We are always looking at innovative ways we can help provide a better railway while causing the least amount of disruption to passengers and local communities.

“Using the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was an obvious way to do this and we will be transporting material to and from site throughout the work.

“I’m grateful to passengers, canal users and local residents for their patience while this essential work is delivered and urge anyone who is planning to travel by train between 15 and 23 February to plan their journeys and check before they travel.

“Our work will help keep passenger services reliable and safe for decades to come.”

The birth of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal more than 200 years ago was one of the most important moments in East Lancashire’s history.

It meant tonnes and tonnes of goods were able to be collected at Liverpool’s docks and sent up to Lancashire in a matter of days by barge.

This benefitted East Lancashire massively, meaning production could be turned over at a faster rate and businesses and canal communities flourished.

As well as the bridge work, new drainage will also be installed in Rosegrove, near another railway bridge, to help protect the railway during heavy rainfall.

Track improvements will also be delivered at Towneley Tunnel and Gannow Junction in Burnley.

There also will be two closures of the canal and its towpaths by Oswaldtwistle Golf Club from Monday, January 20, until the Friday, March 13, and at Rosegrove from January, 27, until March 6.

Christopher Jackson, regional director at Northern, said: “The vital work being carried out by Network Rail will provide our customers with a more reliable railway for many years.

“We will continue to work closely with colleagues across the rail industry to minimise the impact on our customers and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience while the work is completed.”

Mark Overum, area operations manager from the Canal and River Trust, said: “It’s great that Network Rail is using the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to transport goods along it instead of using the road and we’re are pleased to be working with them on this project.

“The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a fantastic resource for all to enjoy so we encourage people to spend some time by the water as we know that improves people’s health and wellbeing.”