A FEASIBILITY study is to take place into the potential reopening of a rail link which would give Keighley passengers a direct route into Lancashire.

News of the study, into resurrecting the Skipton to Colne line, has been welcomed by campaigners.

An announcement was made on Saturday by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, during a visit to Colne Railway Station.

"We are carrying out the biggest investment in the north for a generation and are committed to improving rail links to boost the Northern Powerhouse," he said.

"The historic line between Skipton and Colne could deliver a vital link across the Pennines to boost business and move goods between the east and west much more quickly.

"I want this study to look clearly at the business case and value that the line could provide."

The study, being co-commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North, should be completed later this year.

Barry White, chief executive of Transport for the North, said he was delighted at the news.

"We will now work with the Department to produce a cost and economic benefit study for reopening the line," he added.

"In our recently-published draft strategic transport plan, we identified the central Pennines as one of seven corridors vital to future economic growth in the north.

"A reopened rail link between Skipton and Colne could create a new, faster freight route across the Pennines as well as benefitting passengers with new services between Lancashire, Skipton and Leeds.

"This supports our vision of a thriving north of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life."

The Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) has long pressed for the 12-mile link, which last operated in 1970, to be restored.

A spokesman said: "We are delighted at the latest announcement and the social and economic benefits it could bring."

Keighley MP John Grogan also backs the scheme.

"This announcement follows an intensive cross-party campaign over the last year backed by business," he said.

"Restoring the link between Skipton and Colne has been one of my priorities since I was elected last June, and I raised the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time before Christmas.

"There is now every prospect that trains could be running from Keighley through to Burnley and beyond sometime before 2025."

Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said the feasibility study was "great news".

She added: "Better transport links across the Pennines is a big priority for many of our businesses in Keighley and along the Airedale corridor – particularly for freight, but it would also provide better connections for passengers and commuters as well, reducing congestion and boosting our local economy."

The study is also welcomed by Councillor Keith Wakefield, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport committee.

"Transforming east-west links for passengers and freight is one of the keys to unlocking the full economic potential of the Leeds City Region and a re-opened Skipton-Colne railway line could play a role," he said.