LABOUR has claimed that the long-awaited reinstatement of the Colne to Skipton rail link could be scrapped after the government revealed a proposed £1 billion cut in Network Rail’s enhancement budget.

Ministers have admitted in response to a written Parliamentary Question from Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, that the sum would be cut from the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline fund over the next three years.

The return of the 11-mile Colne/Skipton link is currently at the middle 'development' stage of that process.

Mr McMahon has included the scheme which would extend the East Lancashire Line from Preston, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley across the Pennines into Yorkshire in a list of 20 future projects at risk from the cash cut.

It would improve passenger rail links between East Lancashire and Leeds and provide a new trans-Pennine freight route.

The line was closed 50 years ago.

Also included in the Labour list is the the electrification of the track between Wigan and Bolton.

Mr McMahon said: "Ministers have admitted they have no idea which projects might be affected as a result of this cut, which will provide little comfort to people in the North-West who rely on these services and were promised improvements.

“This is just another example of broken promises from this government.

"Ministers must now clarify exactly what this means for individual projects, many of which have already been delayed.”