Barnoldswick & Earby Times, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column: Friday 21st September 2018

My Barnoldswick & Earby Times, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column for Friday 21st September 2018...

Last week I hosted a meeting in Parliament to brief MPs on the latest news on the re-opening of the Colne-Skipton railway line. 

This follows the announcement in February by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, of government funding for a feasibility study into the reopening the Colne to Skipton line that was closed back in 1970. That study will be concluded later this year, with the outcome published in the New Year. If the study shows a strong case for the reopening, it will then be up to Government Ministers to decide if the scheme should progress. I will be keeping up the pressure to ensure that if the study comes back positively, the government moves forward with the re-opening without delay.

At the meeting representatives from the Department of Transport, Transport for the North, Network Rail and the SELRAP campaign group briefed those present on the latest news about the study into the reopening of the line. 

The reopening of this railway line is something I have been pushing for years, and I am pleased to have been a Patron of SELRAP since 2010. The line closed during a time when our railways were in public ownership and in decline. Now, more people are travelling by train and it is right to bring back previously closed lines and even consider brand new ones. The Todmorden Curve, which facilitates direct train travel from Burnley to Manchester, reopened in 2015 after a £10 million investment from the government. Re-opening Colne-Skipton therefore doesn’t just open up services to Yorkshire but would also open up our connections to Manchester.

I’m pleased to say this was a really positive meeting, where broad support for the re-opening was expressed and those who have been looking into the various challenges re-opening would face all said that so far no major stumbling blocks has been identified. I would like to pay tribute to SELRAP for organising the meeting and everyone for attending. 

Obviously, we have a long way to go to secure the funding for re-opening and are competing against other worthy projects across the UK but working to improve road and rail links to Pendle remains my top priority.