I CONCUR with most of Gary Proctor's remarks about the proposed Northern Rail Saturday train service from Hellifield to Manchester (Letter: Hellifield-Manchester rail service is a non-starter, April 18 online).

The service needs to be beneficial to passengers travelling in both directions, otherwise the return trains will be empty. Given that Northern are now run by His Majesty's Government, I can't believe that a two car train can't be operated in both directions; one service at an earlier time in the morning, and a return service running early in the evening.

Why not do a public survey to judge the level of public support; particularly if the private car park at Hellifield can be made available, for a reasonable charge to the owner.

Northern had run a Sunday service on this route previously, but unfortunately, it was good for Lancastrians wanting to go walking in the Dales, but not suitable for Yorkshire people wanting to go walking at Lytham St Annes because you had to get off at Blackburn if you wanted to get home on the same day.

I'm not sure that Saturday is the best day to trial such a service. Given that people's activities at a weekend are quite complex, perhaps a weekday trial would be better. Why not ask the question in the survey?

I have always suggested that such a service would be more beneficial to the local community, rather than re-opening the Skipton to Colne line at a cost of £300m.

The Hellifield to Clitheroe route already exists, and you we could use the balance of the £300m to upgrade the bridge on the A65 at Coniston Cold; put a flyover in at Cross Hills level crossing, and build the Skipton to Settle bypass.

Major (Ret'd) Paul Emsley