RAIL campaigners have urged county council bosses to safeguard an old line for the future in Pendle – and lobby for improvements to the East Lancashire line.

County council transport boss Coun Keith Young has been handed a secret report outlining the case for and against spending £50,000 on the old track bed for the Lancashire section of the Colne to Skipton railway line.

And members of SELRAP (Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership) have pleaded with County Hall to fork out the funding, to protect the ‘missing link’ between East Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Andy Shackleton, SEL-RAP spokesman, said: “If this 2.4 miles of track bed falls into the wrong hands then we are wasting our time.”

Mr Shackleton has dismissed fears that there are hidden costs associated with the sale, such as the maintenance of several bridges on the route.

He said checks had been made over how much had been spent on maintaining the land, currently owned by the British Rail Residuary Board, in the 30 years since the line was abandoned and these came to ‘virtually nil’.

Councillor Mike Calvert said the county council was obliged to conduct a proper assessment of the line before any purchase was made.

“If we buy something for £50,000 and, a few months down the line, this transforms into £2million, to make it safe from structural hazards, then people will criticise the county council for spending the money,” he said.

An independent report has been compiled on the track bed purchase, which Coun Young, the cabinet member responsible for transport, is now considering.

Rail campaigners have called for the report’s conclusions to be made public.

Meanwhile other rail pressure groups have complained about the service for passengers using Nelson and Colne stations.

A spokesman for the Friends of Nelson Station said it still took two-and-a-half hours to reach Pendle from Manchester.

Earlier this month two trains from Blackpool to Colne were cancelled in one night, and a third arrived 30 minutes late.

Lord Tony Greaves has also raised concerns about the operating life of the ‘pacer’ trains which serve the East Lancashire line, in the House of Lords.