A CAMPAIGN has been launched to restore passenger services on the railway line from Clitheroe to Hellifield.

Ribble Valley Council will lobby the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to reintroduce passenger trains on the line to Hellifield in Yorkshire.

The Clitheroe to Hellifield line closed in 1962. Hundreds of communities were left without train links as part of the closure of 7,000 of miles of railway lines and 2,000 stations across the UK.

The reopening of the line would lead to the restoration of links from Clitheroe to Skipton, Leeds and Bradford to the east as well as Lancaster and Carlisle to the west coast mainline.

The council said the proposed plan could also lead to the reopening of stations at Chatburn, Gisburn and Newsholme and improve rail links with Manchester Victoria for Clitheroe and parts of Pendle, such as Barnoldswick.

The decision to press for the restoration of passenger services to Hellifield was made during last Thursday’s economic development meeting and has been welcomed by Ribble Valley Council leader, Cllr Ken Hind. He said: “This plan forms part of the council’s approved proposals to drive the Ribble Valley economy to create more jobs, particularly for our young people and further strengthen our strong tourist industry. It will take cars off congested roads and bring more tourists to the Ribble Valley. It will also improve the connectivity for the Ribble Valley community to surrounding urban conurbations for residents.

"The Transport Secretary has recently announced that he proposes to reopen some of the lines closed in 1957 under the Beeching review. This is one line that is used daily for heavy freight and in very good condition. As new rolling stock is planned for this line it is a good moment to restore passenger trains as far as Hellifield."

Last week Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans met with Cllr Hind to discuss a plan of action and while visiting Clitheroe railway station noticed a sign advertising trains that no longer run to Carlisle and Hellifield. Mr Evans will ask for a meeting with the Transport Secretary to put forward the council’s argument, headed by Cllr Hind, and the chairman of economic development committee, Cllr Rupert Swarbrick.