Plans for commuter trains on heritage route hit the buffers

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LONG-AWAITED plans to set up a commuter link on a Yorkshire heritage railway have been dropped.

Studies have investigated the viability of a community rail service on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) between Oxenhope and Keighley where it would link with mainline services. But councillors admitted efforts are being suspended due to “insufficient political will” to revive services by providing a subsidy for the five-mile route closed by British Railways in 1962, re-opening six years later as a heritage line.

Coun John Huxley, the chairman of the Worth Valley Joint Transport Committee set up by Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, Keighley Town Council and Oxenhope Parish Council, said “exhaustive” enquiries into the viability of the scheme had been carried out. But West Yorkshire transport officials and Bradford Council had made it clear they could not recommend the level of subsidy required for the service despite already significant congestion on the roads and plans for hundreds more houses in the area.

“Given that we, as local councils, are not blessed with the kind of funds necessary to pursue the project on our own behalf we have reluctantly concluded that, for the moment at least, there is no point in pursuing the project any further,” he said. We have worked in a productive partnership with the K&WVR all the way through our investigations and we fully understand their position of not being able to fund such a project on their own behalf. The K&WVR always took the proposition seriously and will continue running under their current business model as a successful heritage railway.

“The public funds that have been invested in the feasibility studies have not been wasted because besides looking at the railway and its future as a community transport asset, they have generated discussions at many levels about the future public transport needs in the Worth Valley.”