THE site of a proposed new station at Cross Hills – on North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) land – should be safeguarded for the future, councillors have demanded.

It comes as NYCC has backed down from spending an estimated £14 million on the project, which initially was expected to cost between £6.5 million and £9 million.

Members of the council's Craven area committee moved that the proposal should not be cast aside entirely and that the site should be "safeguarded" for any future station plans.

Councillor Robert Heseltine said: "It would be tragic to shunt this project into the siding and forget about it.

"There may be a time when further work on the proposal could be carried out when funding is identified.

"We must keep it alive as part of the cross-Pennine network, which includes the Government plans for improving the route of the Moss from the M65 corridor."

A disappointed Cllr Andrew Solloway said scrapping the project is short-sighted when improving the railway infrastructure is the sustainable way forward.

And Cllr Patrick Mulligan said cross Pennine links such as the opening of the Skipton to Colne line were the sustainable way forward.

The report was disappointing said Cllr David Ireton but it was important not to dismiss the scheme because there may be ways of finding third party funding.

NYCC business and investment officer, Graham North, said a feasibility study is too costly when the "60 percent optimism bias" that had to be added brought the cost to about £23 million.

As well as the construction of the station, the signalling would also have to be changed because the platform would be close to the level crossing.

Mr North said further investigation would be taking place looking at the possibility of reducing the level crossing barrier 'down time' to improve the waiting time for traffic to cross.

Network Rail is carrying out re-signalling work along the network, which it is hoped will be completed by 2020 and could help reduce barrier down time, he added.