Historic Skipton-Colne railway line could be re-opened

The disused line could be re-opened.
The disused line could be re-opened.
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Hopes have been raised of a boost to the economy and improved transport links if a historic railway line between Skipton and Lancashire is brought back into use.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced that a feasibility study will be carried out into the potential re-opening of the Skipton-Colne railway line.

The line, which dates back to the 1840s, has been the subject of years of determined 
efforts to bring it back into use since being closed in February 1970.

Re-opening the 12-mile route could create a faster rail link across the Pennines and lead to new passenger services between Lancashire, Skipton and Leeds.

The company behind Drax power station, near Selby, is among supporters of moves to re-instate the line.

Drax Power chief executive Andy Koss said: “Re-opening the Skipton to Colne route to rail freight as well as passenger travel would have a significant impact for business across the North of England, slashing travel times and increasing productivity in the process.

“It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain at Drax, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station in North Yorkshire, reducing journey times from the Port of Liverpool to less than three hours, a journey which can take up to nine hours at the moment.

“As a nation we can benefit from a fast, efficient railway that allows more free movement of goods between manufacturers, their distribution hubs and their markets across the north of England and beyond.”

The government has said it will look at opportunities to restore rail links lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s

The feasibility study for the Skipton-Colne line is being co-commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North and is expected to be completed later in 2018.

Coun Keith Wakefield, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “Transforming east-west links for passengers and freight across the North of England is one of the keys to unlocking the full economic potential of the Leeds City Region and a re-opened Skipton-Colne railway line could play a role.

“We welcome this feasibility study as a sensible step to better understand the financial and engineering implications as well as the economic and social benefits which could be delivered if this project was taken forward.”