Labour vows to electrify Burnley and Pendle rail links to Yorkshire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and County Coun. Azhar Ali
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and County Coun. Azhar Ali

Significant improvements that could revolutionise East Lancashire’s rail network – including reopening the Colne-Skipton line – would be made if Labour are elected at the next election, the party has announced.

Labour has identified the Skipton-Colne rail line as a high priority scheme that can help connect additional towns and cities and realise the benefits for the planned Crossrail for the North.

The route is a vital link between East Lancashire and Yorkshire, and when completed would deliver 50 miles of electrified railway line from Leeds to Gannow in Burnley.

Pendle County Coun. Azhar Ali said: “This is a ground breaking announcement from the Labour Party. For decades SELRAP and others have put forward a strong case for reconnecting East Lancashire and especially Pendle to Skipton which has always fallen on deaf ears until now.

“Local Labour MPs and I have been lobbying Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who used to live here, to commit more resources for the north after years of areas like East Lancashire having been starved of much needed infrastructure money.

“This commitment not only to reopen the Colne to Skipton Line but to electrify the line to Burnley will deliver a massive jobs boost and open opportunities for young people, as well as build tourism. I will continue to seek a commitment to also look at road links to Yorkshire to ensure that Pennine Lancashire becomes a real northern powerhouse.”

Labour has announced the establishment of a working group to develop proposals for reopening rail lines across the United Kingdom.

The group will work with local politicians, campaign and passenger groups, businesses, and devolved authorities to identify and set out plans for investing to open lines where there is a social and economic case to do so.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: "Under-investment in the regions is holding our economy back, particularly the absence of Northern East-West rail links, which is why there is such a strong case for reopening the line between Colne and Skipton. The route is a vital link between East Lancashire and Yorkshire, and when completed would deliver 50 miles of electrified railway line from Leeds to Burnley.

“Reopening this line has the potential to be transformative for the area. It’s exactly the type of scheme that needs exploring as part of a much more significant commitment to boost investment in the North and close regional funding divides.”