Julian Smith MP has welcomed news today that the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has backed the re-opening of the Colne to Skipton rail link, moving the project one step closer to proceeding.
The rail link, which has been closed since the 1970s, could provide a major boost to the local economy across Lancashire and Yorkshire if re-opened, with businesses in Skipton and Ripon standing to benefit from the improved passenger and freight links in the region.
On a visit to the area today, Mr Grayling confirmed that an initial study has found that it is technically feasible to re-open the line, adding that he was personally committed to getting the line back up and running. He said that in addition to the work underway to improve the connections between larger cities in the North, routes like Colne to Skipton that serve smaller towns are also vitally important for increasing economic growth across the region.
His comments come as work on the £2.9 billion Transpennine electrification programme gets underway, with new trains expected across the network later this year.
If a viable business case can now be made for the line, the Government will provide funding needed for the scheme, which would also include improvements to the East Lancashire line from Preston through Accrington and Blackburn.
Julian Smith MP said, ‘I am delighted that Chris Grayling has again today committed the Government to continued work on the Colne-Skipton re-opening and improvements to the East Lancashire line, which is what many local campaigners have long been calling for. If the scheme is able to proceed, it will provide a huge boost to businesses in Skipton and Ripon, and be a real demonstration of how this Government is backing local businesses by improving vital infrastructure across the North of England. I hope that we can now proceed quickly with the next steps, so that the benefits of this project can be realised as soon as possible. Many congratulations must also go to all those who have got the campaign to this stage.’