An action group campaigning to reinstate just 12 miles of rail track between Colne and Skipton is building up to a major last push to get the project over the line.
SELRAP, the Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership, suggests that a new rail corridor will be transformational – forming the North’s freight trans-Pennine link and supporting the levelling-up of the Northern economy.
The reinstatement of the track will connect the Airedale line, a modern and fast train service running from Leeds, into East Lancashire. Two trains will be scheduled per hour, with a new station built at Earby and a replacement station built in Colne. This will bring the Colne-Leeds journey time down to just 50 minutes, with significant benefits for students, commuting, leisure and tourism opportunities in East Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales.
Freight is another significant benefit the project will bring to the region, SELRAP argues. Additional freight trains on this route will make it a strategic freight rail corridor from coast to coast, connecting Hull with Liverpool and routes in between. This will significantly reduce congestion pressure on the M62 and will have a great benefit on the environment. This project will also open up other future projects, such as the building of a strategically placed freight terminal at Huncoat.
Supporting the argument, a report ‘THE SKIPTON – COLNE RAIL CORRIDOR: The New Transpennine Northern Link’, drawn up by Arup last year, states that:
- The Skipton – Colne rail corridor is home to around 676,000 people, 32,000 businesses, and nearly 200,000 jobs.
- A new 12 mile rail corridor will be transformational – forming the North’s fourth trans-Pennine link, supporting the levelling-up of the East Lancashire and wider Northern economy.
- The Rail Corridor will enhance connectivity, improve productivity, increase employment, foster innovation, and deliver inclusive growth.
- The Skipton – Colne Rail Corridor will open up opportunities for communities across East Lancashire, spreading and enhancing the economic benefits from Yorkshire.
High profile supporters have lent their voice to the campaign, including the Chamber of Commerce, Skipton Building Society, Drax Power Station, Leeds City Council, and MPs along the route corridor. The campaign has also been mentioned in Parliament, most noticeably by Sara Britcliffe, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden.
A campaign video has been produced, to illustrate how such a relatively small infrastructure project would be transformational, not just for passengers, but, by creating a highly important freight rail corridor coast to coast, benefitting the new proposed freeports as well as existing businesses.
Peter Bryson, chairman of SELRAP, said: “We’ve had so much support from leading figures already on our project, and 2021 is the year we will get this over the line and secure the funding.
“We hope people will understand more now about why this project is so important for the whole of the North, and will really get behind us and show support!”