The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, was in Colne today to update local politicians on the feasibility of re-opening the Skipton to Colne railway line.
He also updated locals on the possibility of a bypass for the Lancashire town.
The Colne to Skipton line has been a dream for some locals for many years, not only for passenger use but also the use of freight trains on this Trans-Pennine line.
Colne to Skipton last saw a train in 1970 and would create a faster route for new services from East Lancashire to Skipton and Leeds.
Local radio, 2BR, has said that “Chris Grayling says plans to have it open by 2025 have moved a significant step closer”.
What did the officials say?
Speaking to the Leader Times, Mr Grayling said that he was hopeful work could be done and that there was a strong case for a bypass in Colne.
“Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and I are looking at the local demand for a bypass that will benefit residents and businesses by breaking the congestion currently experienced in this area.
“There has been a lot of talk about rail improvements but roads are important too. The Government is putting a lot of extra money into building bypasses, and there is a strong case for one in Colne.”
“I’m personally keen to see the reopening of the Colne to Skipton line. That’s why I thought it was important I come to Colne today to meet local representatives and affirm my commitment to finally establish the feasibility of the route. I know Andrew Stephenson has been working very hard on this scheme for years and I will do what I can to support him.”
Pendle Borough Council leader, Coun. Paul White, said:
“Obviously it’s great news that the Skipton to Colne line can technically be re-opened. I believe it will benefit business in the area because it will be a strategic route for freight across the North.
“It will also have a very positive impact on passengers in this area. Regards the bypass, I am very clear that for the sake of Pendle’s economic development something has to happen. A huge amount of manufacturing is based in West Craven, and this would help to create better access to the motorway network.
“It is great to have the Secretary of State back in Colne. I’m pleased he is moving the study into reopening of the rail line to the next stage. I also took the opportunity to lobby the Secretary of State on the case for a Colne bypass and I will continue to ensure Pendle Council does all it can to make the case for a bypass.”
Vice chairman of Colne Town Council Ash Sutcliffe said:
“Colne Town Council is currently developing its own Neighbourhood Plan and improved transport links are a key part of our plan. The reopening of the rail line and a bypass would be hugely beneficial to Colne business and residents alike.”
Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Lancashire County Coun. Michael Green commented:
“There is a real economic benefit to the whole of East Lancashire if we can reopen the line and find a suitable route for a possible Colne and village bypass. It is important we continue to build a case for both with equal vigour. “In order to grow the economy across the North of England, it is important to have improved road and rail links, east to west, which is what we are constantly promoting.”