The Government's have said that a decision on the Colne-Skipton line re-opening will be made shortly with East Lancashire-based Liberal Democrat Lord Tony Greaves calling it "crunch time".
Yesterday afternoon in the House of Lords, Lord Greaves called on the Government to make the proposed new rail route across the north of England - which includes reopening the Colne to Skipton line - a priority, prompting the Transport Minister in the Lords, Baroness Liz Sugg, to promise "an announcement on it shortly”.
“This really is crunch time for re-opening the line from Colne to Skipton," said Lord Greaves. "SELRAP [Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership] have done a wonderful job over the years keeping the dream alive. Now, linked with this plan for a new high-standard trans-Pennine freight route, the dream is alive.”
Before Christmas, Baroness Sugg confirmed that the feasibility study - which is reported to have cost the Government nearly £1m - had been completed and submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, who has recently come under fire for awarding a £13.8m Brexit ferry contract to Seaborne Freight, a company without any ferries.
“If this major new freight route across the north of England is built, it will provide a route from Liverpool docks, via Skipton-Colne, to Leeds and Yorkshire, up the east coast main line and to the Yorkshire coast and to Drax," said Lord Greaves, who is also a member of Pendle Borough Council. "Is this not a scheme that, at a fraction of the cost of any new major scheme in the south-east or London, could provide a major freight route across the north of England within three or four years?
“If we want our railway service back and a fast service from Burnley through to the Aire Valley and Leeds, this is the way to get it," he continued. "We have to be hard-headed about this. The campaigners at SELRAP are involved at the heart of this project and they deserve all the support we can give.
"Everyone must work together on this.”