Pendle peer says proposed Colne rail line has 'hit the buffers'

The buffers at Colne station
The buffers at Colne station

Pendle peer Lord Greaves has claimed in the House of Lords that a long-anticipated new rail link for Colne had "hit the buffers".


Lord Tony Greaves, who is also a Liberal Democrat councillor on Pendle Borough Council, was speaking about the proposed reopening of the Skipton to Colne rail link, which was again championed by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on a visit to Colne in January.

Lord Greaves

Lord Greaves

However, Lord Greaves said that Mr Grayling had had nothing new to say and accused the Department of Transport of "bureaucratic inertia" over delays in the scheme.

The peer highlighted that a feasibility study, completed before Christmas, should now be moving on to the second 'Develop' phase of what is called the Rail Enhancements Pipeline.

He said: "There are disturbing signs that the recent exciting push to reopen the line has again run into the buffers.

"Chris Grayling paid a second mysterious and unannounced visit to Colne railway station a month ago with the local MP and just three Conservative councillors, and gave some up-beat interviews to the local media – but he actually announced nothing at all. It seems it was just a very bizarre publicity stunt when he had nothing new to say.

“What is needed now is a proper engineering study into the practicalities of reopening the line which can act as a basis for an assessment based on hard financial facts, and moving the scheme to Stage 2.”

Lord Greaves has now tabled more questions to the Government in the House of Lords asking Lords Transport Minister Baroness Sugg for details of who will carry out the new work, what it will comprise, what it will cost, and when it will take place.

He added: "The Department of Transport refuses to publish the feasibility report, saying it wants yet another study, but when asked it won' give any details of what it wants, who
will do it or when it will be done.

"Everyone who is wanting to promote this scheme, from the commercial interests to the brilliant local campaigners, seems utterly frustrated by the Department for Transport’s bureaucratic
inertia.”

The reinstating of the Skipton-Colne rail line, after some 50 years, would form part of a new freight railway route between Liverpool and Yorkshire.

Baroness Sugg told Lord Greaves that the study was only the first step in establishing the feasibility of the project. She added that the Government was now working to assess further the freight demand and commercial viability of the scheme.