This is a proposal to reopen the railway line between Skipton and Colne, a 12 mile stretch of railway that would connect the Airedale line in West Yorkshire to East Lancashire’s Colne to Preston line, creating a direct route from Preston to Leeds.
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.
Julian Smith has campaigned hard for this proposal since he was first elected and he regularly meets with SELRAP (the Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership), which has been campaigning for the reopening of this stretch of railway, and the MPs for constituencies that are also affected. He was delighted by the announcement that, following a year-long feasibility study by the Department for Transport, the then Transport Secretary has backed the re-opening of the Skipton to Colne rail link, moving the project one step closer to proceeding.
On a visit to the area in January 2019, 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. 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 said, ‘I am delighted that Chris Grayling has again 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.’