The man behind a proposed project linking Colne with Skipton believes the creation of a route for cyclists and pedestrians is very realistic.
Ian Lyons, from Earby, has set up a website to explore further the idea for a West Craven Greenway linking the Red Rose and White Rose counties.
Starting at cycle route 68 on the canal towpath at Foulridge, the approximate 10 mile route along the disused railway line would provide an alternative connection with Skipton Railway station. It could possibly be extended at the Colne end as far as Vivary Way too.
Mr Lyons, who is also a member of SELRAP, says that the greenway could be created straight away and not hinder any bid for the return of the railway.
Mr Lyons said: “The railway track seems like a massive under used resource but one that has quite a lot of potential.
“From Earby, the quickest way is currently by car, the buses are not really viable and this would be a quick way of getting there which would be safe and flat and would benefit people’s health and the economy.
“It’s not being aimed at your Bradley Wiggins’s who can race up hills, but commuters who want to get there in under 30 minutes without breaking a sweat or for people taking their children to school.
“The canal towpath at weekends is full of people cycling up and down and families out walking and enjoying the area.
“The need for it is obvious and it is practical for all sorts of reasons.
“An estimate for the West Craven Greenway scheme could be between £1.6m. and an absolute worst case scenario of £3m. in capital expenditure, with some revenue costs for routine maintenance. This is a fraction of the cost of a road for motor vehicles of the same length.
“There is nothing in any government policy about bringing the railway back so this could be done now and that later. But in any event, it could be developed sympathetically to the track in the same way the Calder Valley Greenway has been in Huddersfield.
“I have a meeting arranged with Sustrans in June and Tricia Wilson at Pendle Council later this month. It is already in Pendle Council’s cycling strategy which is good and Sustrans have done a feasibility study previously.
“I hope my research will solve one issue though and that is with the ownership of the land. I’m fairly confident it is county council owned but I hope to have that nailed down in the next couple of weeks.”