Momentum behind restoration of missing rail link

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CONFIDENCE is growing behind a bid to get a missing stretch of trans-Pennine railway track reinstated after more than 40 years.

A group of representatives from the rail industry and the business world, together with local and county councils are examining rail connectivity across the North of England, including the case for 11.5 miles of track to be restored between Skipton, North Yorkshire and Colne, Lancashire.

The section of track has been closed since 1970.

The group has until the end of the year to produce a detailed report on the scheme, including its social and economic benefits, for Network Rail to consider for a round of funding for rail projects that will be scheduled to take place between 2019 and 2024.

A group of local people known as the Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership have been calling for the railway line between the two Northern counties to be restored for many years, but committee member Jane Wood, of Barnoldswick, believes momentum has grown significantly behind the proposal this year.

“We are more confident than we have been because we have so many groups of people talking to each other now - the combined authorities for North and West Yorkshire, local councils and people from the rail industry,” she said.

“George Osborne is looking at a Northern Powerhouse because it is recognised that more funding has been spent in the South and South West, particularly on railways, and we have been seen as the poor relations.”

She added that a reconnected line was essential due to M62 congestion, overcrowding on existing trans-Pennine lines and timetables ill-suited to smooth travel between Liverpool and Hull.

The campaign group has hosted three officials from the Transport for Transport in the last 12 months and has also recently attracted the support of Skipton Building Society, Mrs Wood said.

Campaigners are holding an open meeting to discuss the proposal further at the New Life Christian Centre in Colne on September 14, ahead of the re-convening of the stakeholders group, the Output Definition Group, later in the month.