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Push to reopen Northern rail link

drax biomass train cropped

Plans to re-open a disused Northern rail link have received a boost after businesses backed the scheme.

Campaigners fighting to re-open the 11.5 mile rail connection between Skipton and Colne in east Lancashire attended a meeting in parliament with MPs and representatives from major employers in the area, as well as Arup and Peel Ports.

One of the businesses keen to see it open is Drax Power Station in Selby, North Yorkshire. It says the line would reduce journey times to the Port of Liverpool from up to nine hours to less than three.

Drax head of supply chain and logistics Graham Backhouse said: “It has the potential to have a major impact in improving rail links right across the country for passengers and freight, helping businesses and boosting the UK’s economy.

“It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station.

“As a nation we can benefit from a fast, efficient railway that allows more free movement of goods between manufacturers, their distribution hubs and their markets across the north of England and beyond.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Keighly MP John Grogan hosted the meeting at Portcullis House with the Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP).

Other bodies attending the meeting included  Arriva Rail North, Network Rail and Transport for the North.

TfN interim strategy direction Jonathan Spruce said: “We have identified seven strategic development corridors in the North, one of which is the Central Pennines Corridor.

“We published this when we put out our position statement around our emerging Strategic Transport Plan in June, and we said there was clear evidence of a lack of east-west connectivity and resilience for passengers and also for freight.

“We are now working with our partners to understand fully what the key transport interventions are in each of the transport corridors.”

TfN would not comment on whether the scheme will feature in its transport plan, which will be published early next year.

SELRAP said it also had support from Lancashire County Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Bradford City Council and North Yorkshire County Council, and MPs will meet to discuss the proposals again later this month.

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