Today The Transport Secretary announced the next stage of progress into the feasibility of reopening of the Skipton to Colne railway line. This will include a look into the freight and commercial demand for a new cross-Pennine route.
This follows the initial work that has been done by the feasibility study announced in February 2018 into the potential reopening of the historic Lancashire to North Yorkshire rail line.
The 12-mile route, which last ran in 1970, could create a faster rail route for potential new passenger services between East and Central Lancashire towns with Skipton and Leeds, joining towns on the route to new jobs and education opportunities across the North of England.
The Government has said it will explore opportunities to restore capacity lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s. The Government has set aside significant funding for the development of new railway schemes in the next railway funding period from 2019 to 2024.
The study into reinstating the Skipton-Colne rail line as part of a new TransPennine link, carried out in partnership with Transport for the North, was the first step in establishing the feasibility of the project - today begin the start of the next stage.
Commenting on his announcement Secretary of State The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP said, “I’m personally keen to see the reopening of the Colne to Skipton line that’s why I thought it was important I come to Colne today to meet local representatives and affirm my commitment to finally establish the feasibility of the route. I know Andrew Stephenson MP has been working very hard on this scheme for years and I will do what I can to support him.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson MP said, “Having the Secretary of State back in Colne is a huge boost for those of us who are working to have the line reopened. I’m pleased we are now moving to the next stage in building the case for the line and I will continue to work across Government to ensure we have the best possible chance of getting much needed East to West connectivity.”
During his visit to Colne the Secretary of State also took the time to see first-hand some of the congestions issues around Vivary Way and North Valley Road. Representatives from Colne Town Council, Pendle Borough Council and Lancashire County Council were on hand to outline the benefits a bypass could have for Colne and surrounding villages.
The Secretary of State commented, “The Government is committed to spending over £28bn on our roads by 2025. As a department we’ve recently released the Major Road Network and Large Local Majors programmes to which highway authorities, like Lancashire County Council, can apply to for funding for major schemes like a bypass for Colne.”
Commenting on the visit, Leader of Pendle Council, Paul White said, “It is great to have the Secretary of State back in Colne today. I’m pleased he is moving the study into reopening of the rail line to the next stage. I also took the opportunity to lobby the Secretary of State on the case for a Colne bypass and I will continue to ensure Pendle Council does all it can to make the case for a bypass.”
Vice Chairman of Colne Town Council, Ash Sutcliffe commented, “Colne Town Council is currently developing its own Neighbouhood Plan and improved transport links are a key part of our plan. The reopening of the rail line and a bypass would be hugely beneficial to Colne business and residents alike.”
Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Lancashire County Councillor Cllr Michael Green, commented, “There is a real economic benefit to the whole of East Lancashire if we can reopen the line and find a suitable route for a possible Colne and village bypass. It is important we continue to build a case for both with equal vigour. In order to grow the economy across the North of England, it is important to have improved road and rail links, east to west, which is what we are constantly promoting.”