From Craven Herald & Pioneer, 9th November 2017
Written by Clive White
CAMPAIGNERS battling to reinstate a rail link between Skipton and Colne believe the £100m scheme is a step nearer reality after a key meeting at Westminster. And the region's MPs believe that the re-established railway between Skipton and Colne, which would cost around £100m and consist of 11.5 miles of new track, now has strong support and is closer than it has ever been.
The meeting, hosted by Tory MP for Pendle Andrew Stephenson and Keighley Labour MP John Grogan, whose constituency covers parts of South Craven, included MPs, businesses leaders, and local authorities.
They were given a presentation by the Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP), who have long campaigned for the restoration of the line.
Representatives for Transport for the North, tasked by the Government with delivering strategic transport links across the North, to be published next year, where also involved.
Mr Grogan said: "For about £100 million and eleven-and-a-half miles of new track, the nation could achieve a new trans-Pennine rail link which is obviously a relatively small sum when compared with the costs of high-speed rail.
"The presence of so many businesses at the meeting shows the potential for increased freight traffic.
"Passengers at Keighley and Skipton would also have the chance to travel directly to towns in East Lancashire, and beyond to Manchester Airport and Manchester.
"Following the meeting, I am confident that the scheme will feature in the Transport of North Plan to be published in January.
"The task then will be to persuade the Government to fund it in the period 2020 to 2025."
Also present was supporter Skipton MP Julian Smith,Skipton Building Society, Drax power station, Peel Ports, TArriva Rail Northern, Network Rail, North Yorkshire County Council, Lancashire County Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
The scheme proposes reopening the disused track to connect the Airedale line in West and North Yorkshire to East Lancashire’s Colne to Preston line, creating a direct route from Preston to Leeds.
Mr Stephenson said the meeting was "very upbeat" and he believed supporters were a step nearer to seeing the link, axed more than 45 years-ago, brought into reality.
"In the ten years I have been attending meetings about this project, this was by far the most positive. I led a debate on this in Parliament in April and it was clear then there was a positivity towards the project," he said.
He would now be keeping up the pressure especially next year when TfN would be making its recommendations on which projects should be supported to the Government.
SELRAP's chairman, Peter Bryson, said it was now hoped that TfN would take on the re-instatement of the line as a key project.
"It needs to be confirmed but following what was said at the meeting I can't see it not going forward," he said.
Julian Smith said: "It was clear from the various businesses and organisations that there is strong support for this scheme.
"I have already had a range of conversations about the reopening of the Skipton to Colne line with my colleagues in the Department for Transport and I will continue to offer the project my support.
"I would like to pay tribute to SELRAP for the great work it has done over the past years in campaigning for the reopening of this line.
"It was clear from the various businesses and organisations at the meeting that there is strong support for this scheme.
"I have already had a range of conversations about the reopening of the Skipton to Colne line with my colleagues in the Department for Transport and I will continue to offer the project my support."