SELRAP’S £40m. bid to reopen Colne-Skipton rail line

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THE determined group trying to get the rail link between Colne and Skipton back in operation has put in a staggering bid for £40 million of Government funding.

The Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership - or Selrap - has applied for cash from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (Round 2).

It has applied for this funding to drive forward its campaign to reinstate the missing rail link.

The aim of the Regional Growth Fund is to encourage the upgrade of jobs through private sector enterprise and investment.

If successful in its bid, the organisation would form the Pennine Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Development Group this autumn, which would have representation from the rail industry, county councils, private companies, Selrap and other interested parties. The project would be completed by 2020.

Selrap media officer Jane Wood said: “Selrap is bidding for £40 million, which in turn would attract £300 million in added benefits to the local economy over three years, and by the 10th year this would be £1,000 million. Building the railway would create 314 jobs. Via the businesses, this would attract and the development of tourism in Pennine Lancashire. This would result in another 16,629 employment opportunities, too.

“It would enable people to have the opportunity to travel further to study, seek new employment opportunities and to enjoy leisure activities. Less car journeys taken would also be a positive outcome.

“Freight would also be an important aspect of the improved rail service, therefore a rail freight terminal would be required. Again, this would reduce road traffic volume and improve air quality. Passengers could also travel to Pennine Lancashire from Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, thus helping connect the North of England.”

This rail link would encourage more tourists to travel by rail and a wish to stay in the area. This in turn would lead to a demand for hotels together with bed and breakfast accommodation.

The railway stations would include office and retail units together with small enterprise units for start-up businesses.

Selrap has always emphasised the economic and social benefits of reinstating and improving rail links. A number of railways have re-opened in Scotland with the number of passengers exceeding expectations. The added benefits to their communities have also been clear.

There has also been a £9 million bid to re-install the Todmorden Curve, which would mean trains from Burnley would be able to make much faster journeys to Manchester. Although Burnley Council is pressing for that, it is also keen to support Selrap’s proposal. Selrap member Mr Peter Nowland said: “Our bid would encourage the growth of jobs and private industry within the local areas.

The Government will announce decision on the projects in September or October.