Yorkshire Party Leader Stewart Arnold has highlighted the importance of “missing rail links” in the county.
In a letter congratulating the group working for restoration of the 12-mile route from Colne to Skipton, Stewart points out that devolution would allow Yorkshire the powers to work on similar locally and strategically important lines.
He has written to Peter Bryson, chair of the Selrap group that has been battling to restore the Colne to Skipton line – severed after the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
In congratulating Mr Bryson, Stewart wrote; “My attention has been drawn to recent press reports and your own excellent prospectus, published in September. I note that even this Secretary of State seems optimistic a restored link might carry trains by 2025.
Stewart Arnold: stressed importance of devolution in securing powers to reopen long-closed rail lines
“With the technical case satisfied and the business case to now be made out, it seems that all your group’s hard work and efforts are reaching their climax.
“I am sure that having strived for so long on this project, Selrap is not complacent, no matter how near the ultimate goal now seems, but is determined to finish the job.
“The Yorkshire Party highlighted the work on the scheme in its General Election manifesto of 2017*, and I’m delighted to be among politicians of all hues who have shown support for your efforts.
“For the Yorkshire Party, this is not just because of the local benefits to North Yorkshire and East Lancashire, welcome though they would be, but also because of the strategic gains for the whole of our county and our neighbours from the improved East-West route.
“Issues such as these underscore why we believe that a devolution of meaningful powers including transport to a directly elected assembly is so important. It would enable us to begin a process of reopening long-closed lines as they have been able to do in Scotland.”
Selrap is the Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership
Selrap says that extending the attractive Airedale line services into East Lancashire would not only complete a strategic East-West crossing but create a direct and fast new route from Burnley, in East Lancashire, into the heart of Leeds. This would benefit commuters, shoppers, tourists, business and industry, and freight transport.
Read the Selrap business prospectus – for what it calls the Northern Link, backed by the Skipton Building Society – here.
*In its 2017 General Election manifesto the Yorkshire Party highlighted the Colne to Skipton route as one of several it was keen to restore.
It said then: “Beeching cuts devastated Yorkshire’s railways. The devolved Scottish Government has reopened several routes, Yorkshire has reopened none.
“Our priorities for reopening include:
- A new link to Otley and Pool via Menston continuing to Arthington (with a new Arthington Station) and back to Leeds: ‘The Otley Loop’, albeit re-routed. Tram-trains are one possibility.
- Skipton to Colne (allowing better links from West and North Yorkshire to the North-West)
- Manchester to Sheffield via Woodhead
- Malton to Pickering (creating a direct route from York to Whitby)
- York to Beverley and Hull via Pocklington and Market Weighton
- Bradford Cross-Rail
- Harrogate to Northallerton (creating a direct route from Leeds and Harrogate via Ripon to the North-East.
A crucial “missing link” is a rail connection to Leeds/Bradford Airport. The best solution may be tram-trains, to serve Yeadon and Rawdon as well, but all options should be considered.”