Railways in Lancashire have suffered ‘doom and gloom’ for years while nearby Yorkshire districts are flourishing, say campaigners.

Lobbyists from Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) says communities between Skipton, Leeds and Bradford generally have regular commuter trains plus good tourist-focused heritage lines, like the Embsay-Bolton Abbey and Keighley-Worth Valley lines.

But in East Lancs rail track, stations and train services are neglected, members claim, especially along the single-line branch ending at Colne.

Supporter of SELRAP says East Lancs' economic prospects suffer from poor transpor and the gap between its boroughs and wealthier, better-connected areas is getting worse.

Peter Bewes, from Skipton, told heir latest meeting in Colne even though previous ‘grand plans’ for Skipton station had been "watered down", the location was buoyant and train services were a key factor.

He said: “Skipton is a commuter town. If you go there, you cannot fail to notice the amount of development.

"There are new houses being built everywhere. Skipton is really part of a greater-Leeds area.

"There are also new railway stations at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall, north of Bradford and Leeds. Everything is happening.

"Skipton generally has excellent train services, even during the strikes. There are regular services connecting to Leeds and Bradford.

“But it has been doom-and-gloom over the years in East Lancashire. We now seem to be making some progress with our Colne-Skipton campaign but it seems like ‘jam tomorrow’.”

The new Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall stations are part of the Metro network linked to West Yorkshire Combined Authority, he added.

And he said: "The Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is optimistic that it will be able to run into Skipton. That would be like the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. So tourism in the area will be growing even more.

"Contrast Skipton with east Lancashire. I’m not optimistic about East Lancashire. Things are going on behind the scenes but I don’t think the government has the Colne to Skipton case on its agenda.”

Elsewhere in east Lancashire, Ribble Valley Council is involved with studies and talks into improving train links between Clitheroe, Hellifield, Skipton and the Settle-Carlisle route.

Yvonne May, a Colne residen, told the meeting: "We are very interested in getting the Colne to Skipton line reopened. What can we do to get more people involved?

"We need young people to stir things up. There are all sorts of groups and activities going on, which we need to bring in.”

Cllr Ash Sutcliffe, a Pendle Conservative borough and county councillor, said Colne’s Business Improvement District might offer support.

SELRAP’s David Penney, from Colne, said Pendle Council supports the campaign along with other councils and politicians. SELRAP is supported in the Colne Masterplan too, a planning and development project.

Another member, Jane Wood, of Barnoldswick. said Earby and Barnoldswick masterplans also support SELRAP. The campaign’s ambitions include a new station for Earby.