"Missing link" rail line could yield £43.5m annual boom

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An independent report into the benefits of improving trans-Pennine transport links by installing a rail line between Colne and Skipton has been warmly welcomed by SELRAP (Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership).

Insisting that a new line between Colne and Skipton “will pay for itself in a few years”, the report estimates the total economic benefits to be £43.5m per annum, and claims that "there will be more 'economic bang' from investing in the line than any other road or rail scheme."

Paul McMahon, Managing Director of Freight and National Passenger Operators at Network Rail, and Graham Backhouse, Head of Supply Chain and Logistics at Drax Power.

Paul McMahon, Managing Director of Freight and National Passenger Operators at Network Rail, and Graham Backhouse, Head of Supply Chain and Logistics at Drax Power.

Continuing to work with ministers, MPs, Transport for the North, and several Local Authorities to progress the scheme, SELRAP already has the full support of Skipton Building Society, Drax Power (Britain biggest energy suppler), and Arriva Northern Trains.

"The expert report has conclusively shown that building the Skipton to Colne “missing link” will have massive economic and social benefits," read a SELRAP statement.

According to SELRAP, the line would give residents of East Lancashire better access to jobs in Yorkshire, boost existing manufacturing and aerospace industries (including Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick), attract new businesses, provide a viable alternative to the M62, and open access to education and tourism.

SELRAP chairman, Peter Bryson, said: “This report is a key milestone towards progressing this very short, but very vital, rail link. [It] clearly shows there will be transformational economic benefits for both Lancashire and Yorkshire.

"With the right political will and funding, SELRAP now believes that fast and modern trains could be running from Burnley and Pendle into Leeds in less than an hour by the early 2020s," Mr Bryson added.

Titled “Central trans-Pennine Corridor East West Connectivity: an Economic Study”, the report was carried out by the Lancashire Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and two other Yorkshire Local Authorities.

Prepared by real estate experts Cushman Wakefield and transport consultants Systra, the report highlighted SELRAP’s proposal to extend the successful Airedale Line services from Leeds and Bradford all the way into Pendle and Burnley as a "missing link."