A GOVERNMENT department has refuted claims that it has ditched the prospect of reopening a railway line which campaigners say would bring huge economic benefits to Keighley.

Lobbying began years ago for the restoration of the 12-mile Skipton to Colne rail link, which was closed in 1970.

And a feasibility study into the project has been carried out.

But supporters of the scheme have accused the Government of refusing to share the findings of the study, which they claim presents a strong business case for reopening the line, with local authorities along the route.

Plus they allege that the Government has no intention of taking the project forward.

Bradford Council is now writing to the Department for Transport requesting that the business case be shared with local authorities "as soon as possible".

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for regeneration, transport and planning, says: "We have been pushing for the Government to reopen this line for some time and it is our understanding that the review it has undertaken actually shows a promising business case for doing so. It’s infuriating that not only is the Government refusing to progress the scheme any further, but it is also sitting on the report and refusing to share it.

"Connecting our towns like Keighley and Bingley to Colne and Preston is vital to a successful northern economy. Reopening this rail line would be a significant boost not just for Keighley but for other towns and communities right along the Aire Valley. It would grow the economy and provide more rail links for residents too."

The Department for Transport says it is continuing to "work closely" with local authorities on the scheme.

A spokesperson told the Keighley News: "We recognise the potential of the Skipton to Colne line, which is why we have invested in the development of its business case, with input from local leaders.

"We continue to work closely with local authorities on the project and, as is the usual process, will provide an update in due course."

Last October, Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership – a campaign group pressing for the reopening of the line – accused the Government of "completely ignoring" the scheme in a raft of transport announcements.

Group chair, Peter Bryson, said a list of 'compensation' transport projects produced following the decision to axe the northern leg of HS2  totally overlooked the restoration project and wider region.