Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has welcomed an announcement from the Department of Transport that the Colne to Skipton rail line is moving it one step closer to being reopened, despite concerns last week that it might never happen.
The proposal to reopen the Colne-Skipton line was one of 23 projects to get a ‘decision to initiate’ – a key step towards the government giving the reopening the go ahead - in the autumn update of the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, which supplies information on the schemes being funded between 2019-2024.
The news will come as a boost to campaigners who only last week were deflated by claims that reopening the line would not be economically viable, according to Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tony Greaves who claimed that consultants had said it would not be suitable for freight.
READ MORE: Has Skipton to Colne rail line reopening hit the buffers?
However, the decision to initiate stage explores the viability of a possible rail enhancement and results in a Strategic Outline Business Case being developed, to determine whether it should proceed to the next stage.
Mr Stephenson, who has been a keen advocate on reopening the line, said: “This is a big step forward for the Colne to Skipton line as it is the first time it has been included in Department for Transport funding plans. This will ensure all aspects of the proposed reopening are now fully investigated and challenges looked at.
“Reopening the line would boost Pendle’s economy. It would make getting to and from cities like Leeds so much easier, opening up jobs and other opportunities. It would also improve our connections to Manchester with more frequent services on our existing rail line.”
“While there is still a long way to go and this doesn’t mean the scheme will definitely go ahead, it is a big step in the right direction. I will continue to work with local residents to ensure these plans are developed in a way that delivers maximum benefit to our area, whilst also limiting the impact on those close to the line.”