A REOPENED railway line would provide a huge economic boost for Keighley, it's claimed.

The resurrection of the 12-mile Skipton-Colne link would result in a direct rail route from Keighley into Lancashire.

Former Keighley MP John Grogan says that as well as providing an "important" additional trans-Pennine passage for freight, the move would result in a half-hourly passenger service on the Airedale line through Keighley and Skipton into East Lancashire.

"The potential is there to give Keighley a big economic boost," he said.

"Work has been done in the last few years to build the business case for the line.

"The best estimate of cost is now just under £300 million, which is real value for money compared with other schemes.

"The next big decision would be a formal commitment from the Department for Transport to develop the project. This would then be followed by design work.

"In 2028 we will be celebrating 150 years of the line and it would be good to at least have the project well underway by then."

Mr Grogan – who is contesting Keighley again for Labour at the next general election – was amongst those present at a briefing in Parliament to provide an update on the scheme, which was also attended by the town's current MP, Conservative Robbie Moore.

Mr Moore addressed business leaders and fellow MPs at the event.

And campaign group the Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) spoke about the project.

Mr Moore says: "It was fantastic to receive an in-depth update from SELRAP in Parliament.

"The reinstatement of a railway line between Skipton and Colne has my full support.

"It would provide a much-needed boost to transport connectivity across our area. In fact, forecasts presented to MPs in the meeting estimate that the project would generate around 300,000 passengers per year, creating new rail links between East Lancashire, North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, and helping to drive vital economic growth for the whole area.

"It is vital that east-west connectivity is significantly improved and I will continue to campaign on this issue and lobby the Department for Transport to review the business case for this project."

* SELRAP is staging its annual general meeting at Colne Lesser Municipal Hall on Monday, March 13, at 7pm.

Guest speaker will be Darren Allsop, Northern Rail stakeholder manager for the east region.

For more about SELRAP, go to selrap.org.uk.