A BATTLE to restore a former railway line has been taken to the House of Lords.

Lord Tony Greaves said a proposed new rail route across the north of England, including the Skipton-Colne link, must be a Government priority.

He was told an announcement is due “shortly” following a feasibility study.

Campaigners have long been pressing for the 12-mile Skipton to Colne line, which closed in 1970, to be reopened.

The venture is being spearheaded by the Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP), which has seen its membership grow to 540.

Among those supporting the initiative, which would provide a direct rail route from this area into Lancashire, are Keighley MP John Grogan and West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Transport for North provided funding for a definitive study of the route by the Department for Transport, the results of which are now being considered ahead of a public announcement.

East Lancashire-based Lord Greaves, a Liberal Democrat, said: “This really is crunch time for reopening the line from Colne to Skipton.

“SELRAP has done a wonderful job over the years keeping the dream alive.

“Now, linked with plans for a new high-standard trans-Pennine freight route, the dream is alive.”

He told the House: “If this major new freight route across the north of England is built, it will provide a link from Liverpool docks, via Skipton-Colne, to Leeds and up the east-coast mainline and to the Yorkshire coast and Drax.

“Is this not a scheme that, at a fraction of the cost of any new project in the south-east or London, could provide a major route across the north of England within three or four years?

“Will the Government make this a priority?”

Baroness Liz Sugg, transport minister in the Lords, confirmed that the study had been completed and submitted to the Secretary of State Chris Grayling.

She said: “The Government is considering next steps and expects to make an announcement shortly.

“We are looking at the results carefully.

“The noble lord rightly highlights the benefits that the scheme could bring.”

Lord Greaves, who is also a member of Pendle Borough Council, said he would keep-up the pressure.

He added: “If we want our railway service back and a fast link from Burnley through to the Aire Valley and Leeds, this is the way to get it. We have to be hard-headed about this.

“The campaigners at SELRAP are involved at the heart of this project and deserve all the support we can give. Everyone must work together on this.”