CAMPAIGNERS fighting for the reopening of a rail link which would provide a direct route from Keighley into Lancashire are keeping-up the pressure – despite lockdown.
And delighted battle leaders say further steps forward have been taken towards seeing the Skipton to Colne line back in operation. SELRAP, the Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership, have continued to meet via Zoom. Plus, the executive has been liaising virtually with MPs and rail industry figures.
The group has been told that Government ministers have been briefed on the findings of feasibility work commissioned by former Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling (pictured on the left) – and have been asked to prepare costed proposals for further work to take the project through to the ‘decision to develop’ stage.
SELRAP welcomed the progress.
A spokesman added: “The Government’s proposals for the Skipton to Colne line include double-track, heavy rail to full modern technical standards with a new station at Earby.
“There would be two passenger trains per hour linking Leeds with Colne, in a transformational time of just 50 minutes.
“All this will be delivered using modern project management and construction techniques, with no interruption to any existing rail services.
“The expectation is that an improved service will be extended to Nelson, Burnley and Accrington just as soon as the practicalities can be addressed in order to achieve this.
“We recently commissioned a further study from world-renowned consultant Arup to review passenger demand forecasts for the line and also better quantify the huge socio-economic benefits the new service would bring to the region.
“The Department for Transport is looking forward to sight of this report, as modern rail services fit into the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda for northern economies.
“The Government stated in June that it needed to ‘mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK’. The reopening of this line would help address this.”
Rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, has praised the work of SELRAP.
And he added: “The Government is keen to reach an early conclusion on what role a reinstated line could play in improving passenger and freight connections across the Pennines. Given the current phase that this scheme finds itself in, my focus and the Government’s is on establishing the case for progressing it.”
For further information about SELRAP and the campaign, visit selrap.org.uk.