Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership
|Motto||Connecting Communities Across The North|
|480 Members and 52 Affiliated Groups (as of June 2016)|
The Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) is the campaign to reopen the Skipton to Colne railway line, as part of the rail network of the United Kingdom.
History of the Skipton-Colne Line
The line between Skipton and Colne was opened in October 1848, part of the Leeds and Bradford Railway's Shipley to Colne extension and at a cost of £67,000. With the East Lancashire Railway reaching Colne from Burnley in February 1849 and the completion of the Liverpool, Ormskirk and Preston Railway in April 1849, a through route from Leeds to Liverpool was then established. Stations between Skipton and Colne were built at Elslack, Thornton-in-Craven, Earby and Foulridge. A branch from Earby to Barnoldswick was opened in 1871.
The Skipton-Colne line was not listed for closure as part of Dr Beeching's 1963 "The Reshaping of British Railway's" report, however the line closed in February 1970 (with the Barnoldswick branch having earlier closed in September 1965).
Skipton-Colne and the East Lancashire Line
The missing section of railway between Skipton and Colne is 11.5 miles (18.5 km) in length.
The remaining East Lancashire Line serves a conurbation of some half a million people. It is relatively under-utilised, and it is under-developed from an engineering point of view. Colne is currently served by one train per hour which traverses the 50-mile (80 km) East Lancashire Line from Blackpool South railway station via Preston, Blackburn and Burnley, with many station stops at intermediate towns and with a total journey time in excess of 100 minutes. The route is affected by numerous permanent speed restrictions, particularly at junctions. The service is currently operated by Northern, with services operating using Class 142 or Class 150 Diesel Multiple Units.
Skipton is on the Airedale Line and is served by frequent electric trains which serve Leeds every 30 minutes, with a journey time of around 40 minutes, and Bradford Forster Square every 30 minutes, with a journey time of around 35 minutes. These services are also operated by Northern, using a mixture of Class 321, 322 and 333 Electric Multiple Units. Northern also operate services from Leeds to Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham Port, as well as services to Carlisle (on the Settle-Carlisle line), all of which serve Skipton. Skipton also has a direct return service to London Kings Cross operated by Virgin Trains East Coast (06.55 from Skipton, 18.03 from London).
Reinstatement of Colne-Skipton would provide scope for both local and regional rail services. SELRAP say the line will deliver a number of benefits to local communities, the Northwest and the UK as a whole.
A 2003 study commissioned by Lancashire and North Yorkshire County Councils from consultants Steer Davies Gleave found that the formation was largely intact and there were no insurmountable obstacles to reinstatement of the line. A 2007 study by JMP Consultants was commissioned to further assess the business case. This appraisal showed that a positive benefit cost ratio would be achieved for a single track option under most growth and cost scenarios. A double track railway achieves a positive benefit cost ratio if recent trends of accelerating demand growth are assumed to continue.
The proposal to reinstate the line is considered in the Draft Lancashire and Cumbria Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) from Network Rail. The RUS contains a number of statements recognising the potential value of services which could be run on the reinstated line and calls for the alignment to be protected.
Network Rail has, however, stated that it will not be able to fund the construction work which in 2008 was stated to cost £43 million for a single-track line or £81 million for a double-track line, even though it supports the plans. SELRAP are hoping to raise money from other sources, including the Regional Growth Fund.
The trackbed is protected for transport use under the planning policies of Craven District Council, and the Pendle Local Plan, the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan and Lancashire County Council LTP2.
Membership and funding
SELRAP was formed in spring 2001. It is managed by a small volunteer Executive Committee elected from its members. Membership is open to individuals, businesses, local authorities and NGOs. Its core activities are funded by a small membership fee and donations, with the addition of occasional grant support from larger community bodies. For key projects, additional funding and assistance in kind has been provided by local authorities, private charitable foundations and donations from individual members and the business community.
SELRAP's activities include lobbying elected representatives at all levels and negotiating to ensure that the objectives of SELRAP are reflected in policy documents and consultation exercises from bodies involved in planning, development, regeneration, transport and the railways, and the funding thereof. SELRAP also promotes and publicises its agenda via the media and public events, and through its bi-annual newsletter. In 2007 SELRAP instructed JMP to investigate the business case for reopening the line.
SELRAP also holds a Members Open Meeting every two months, either in Skipton, Earby or Colne, allowing members and non-members to hear from the Executive Committee on the campaign, and raise questions or suggestions of their own.
A proposal exists to build a new road known as the “A56 Villages Bypass” from Colne towards Skipton on a similar alignment to the railway. The 2003 report from Steer Davies Gleave suggests that the road and rail schemes may be mutually inclusive. However, some critics regard the rail proposals as a source of undue delay to the road scheme.
SELRAP does not declare a view on the proposed new road provided that its construction does not obstruct or hinder full reinstatement of a double track railway.
SELRAP does not express a view on a lower cost alternative to link Skipton with the West. With a reversal at Hellifield, trains could reach Blackburn and Preston via the Ribble Valley line: although this would require little (if any) structural investment, it would take longer than the direct route and provide none of the regeneration benefits for Colne, Nelson, Burnley or West Craven, instead passing through Clitheroe which already has a good rail service.
- Lancashire County Council brochure
- Skipton-Colne Railway Report
- Re-Opening Of The Skipton to Colne Railway
- Lancashire and Cumbria Route Utilisation Strategy: Draft for public consultation
- "Hopes remain for closed Colne to Skipton railway line". BBC News. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "Funding The Gap" (PDF). Cravenrail (12). SELRAP. November 2008. p. 11. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- Craven District Council
- Pendle Local Plan
- Joint Lancashire Structure Plan and Lancashire County Council LTP2.