A campaign to improve direct rail links between Keighley and London is gathering momentum.

John Grogan, the town’s prospective parliamentary Labour candidate, is backing efforts to introduce extra services.

His support has been welcomed by those who have been working for years for improvements.

Currently, there is one East Coast direct service a day between Keighley and London, which heads to the capital in the morning and returns in the evening.

Mr Grogan said this year there is a “great opportunity” to argue the case for more services to London from Shipley, Keighley and Skipton.

“Many local businesses have already told me more trains to London throughout the day – perhaps with one arriving at 9am – would greatly assist them,” he added.

“It would be a big economic boost to the whole Aire Valley in terms of attracting investment.”

He said the Government was seeking to privatise the East Coast franchise, with invitations to tender expected shortly, and it is essential Keighley’s case be put directly to the three shortlisted companies.

He added Alliance Rail is developing proposals for new “open access” services from London to the north, some of which could be diverted to Keighley and Skipton.

“I want to work closely on this project with Keighley Town Council, which has a strong record of delivering transport improvements to the town – most recently Boxing Day buses,” he said.

Coun Graham Mitchell, who chairs the town council’s watch and transport committee, said: “Three years ago we hosted a meeting with the Alliance group about the idea of having additional trains between London and Keighley and Skipton.

“With the East Coast franchise coming up, we are interested in getting the bidders talking to people in Keighley.

“The baseline is that we want to keep the service we have, but I would like to see it expanded. It would be good to have a northbound train leaving King’s Cross in the morning – that would provide a boost to our leisure economy.”

He added: “I welcome the fact John has come on board. We share the same aims over this.”