CAMPAIGNERS who want to reopen the Colne to Skipton railway line are celebrating a further leap towards their goal.

Lancashire County Council transport chiefs have met with their North Yorkshire counterparts to discuss reopening the link between the two towns.

The formation of a Project Development Group is now thought to be imminent and one of its first jobs will be to secure funding for a GRIP 3 study, to accurately establish how much engineering work will cost.

North Yorkshire County Council is thought to support the campaign and Richard Owens, the county’s assistant director of passenger transport said: “The route could be a real boost for tourism in North Yorkshire from destinations in the North West and could increase opportunities for employment.”

Lancashire county councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate for Pendle, Azhar Ali, has also spoken favourably about reinstating the rail link, saying that the line would benefit the local economy and is also of ‘regional and national importance’.Recently, Pendle Council considered plans to change the disused railway line into a cycle route but, ultimately, councillors agreed that although the cycle path would be ‘nice to have’, it would be too expensive to construct.

Reopening the railway line between Colne and Skipton was shown in March to be financially viable after campaigners SELRAP (Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership), who are hoping to restore the line, won funding for a feasibility study.

Andy Shackleton, from the group, said: “The report stated that there are key towns at each end of the route and smaller towns and villages along the route that could benefit from the increased connectivity that the reopened Colne-Skipton line would offer, “It also showed that more than 600,000 passengers per year could be expected within ten years.

“And with a 30 per cent increase in footfall, the quantifiable benefits resulting from the reopening of the route could exceed overall costs by more than 6.5 times.

“SELRAP is still appealing for funds to continue with the GRIP 3 study. Our members have been incredibly generous in their support but if any local businesses would like to get involved then we would be keen to hear from them.”