Cross-party support for road and rail revolution in Pendle
As reported last week, the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, visited Colne Railway Station last week to pledge his support to ambitious plans to re-open the Skipton-Colne rail link, as well as potentially build a bypass through Colne.
The Tory MP's visit was followed by Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Peter Dowd MP.
Mr Dowd reaffirmed Labour’s 'green light’ for not only the reopening of the line but also electrification of the route.
Mr Dowd said: "There have been enough feasibility studies. It's time for action, not words. What we need for this line is the green light, and Labour will give it.
"Chris Grayling has proved himself incapable of running a national rail infrastructure. I wouldn't trust him to run a model railway."
Pendle Lancashire County Coun. Azhar Ali said that Labour would guarantee two trains an hour to Leeds, as well as electrifying the line to Gannow in Burnley.
Speaking to the Leader Times, Mr Grayling said last week that he was hopeful work could be done and that there was a strong case for the line to be reopened as well as a bypass in Colne.
He said: "I’m personally keen to see the reopening of the Colne to Skipton line. That’s why I thought it was important I come to Colne today to meet local representatives and affirm my commitment to finally establish the feasibility of the route. I know Andrew Stephenson has been working very hard on this scheme for years and I will do what I can to support him.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and I are looking at the local demand for a bypass that will benefit residents and businesses by breaking the congestion currently experienced in this area.
"There has been a lot of talk about rail improvements but roads are important too. The Government is putting a lot of extra money into building bypasses, and there is a strong case for one in Colne."
Asked when any work could begin, the Minister said that such infrastructure projects always take a number of years but added "if you never start, you never finish."
For many residents and businesses, though, the re-opening of the Skipton to Colne railway line has been a long-held dream, which may finally now become a reality. This will include a look into the freight and commercial demand for a new cross-Pennine route.
This follows the initial work that has been done by the feasibility study announced in February 2018 into the potential reopening of the historic Lancashire to North Yorkshire rail line.
The 12-mile route, which last ran in 1970, could create a faster rail route for potential new passenger services between East and central Lancashire towns with Skipton and Leeds, joining towns on the route to new jobs and education opportunities across the North of England.