Map showing Skipton and Colne

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Prior to its closure, the line between Skipton and Colne line was part of the London Midland region of British Railways. In 1970, stations at Foulridge, Earby, Thornton-in-Craven were closed and the track was lifted. Elslack station, situated between Thornton-in-Craven and Skipton, had already closed in 1952. The short branch from Earby to Barnoldswick was dismantled in 1965 along with Barnoldswick station.
Map by Alan Young showing Skipton – Colne line as it was in 1918

Map created by Alan Young and used with his permission | Disused Stations website
The line has been identified by Campaign for Better Transport as a Priority 1 candidate for reopening. It is one of three surviving railways that cross the Pennines, the other two being the Manchester – Huddersfield line and the Manchester – Sheffield (Hope Valley) line.

The reopening scheme promoter is Skipton–East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership.

Reopening the Skipton–Colne rail line – The Northern Link project – Prospectus document September 2018 (pdf; 16pp) »

Government proposals for Skipton – Colne line

Double track, heavy rail to full modern technical standards … with a new station in Earby. And passive provision for future electrification. Already on the table is a direct, two trains per hour passenger service linking Leeds with Colne in a transformational journey time of just 50 minutes. All to be delivered using modern project management and construction techniques … with no interruption to any existing rail services. The new services to Colne can be introduced immediately “our” line is reopened. That said, the expectation is that they will be extended to Nelson, Burnley and Accrington just as soon as the practicalities of doing so are addressed.

Further work by SELRAP

SELRAP recently commissioned a further study from world-renowned consultants, Arup: to review passenger demand forecasts for the Skipton to Colne line … and also better-quantify the huge socio-economic benefits the new services will bring to East Lancashire. The DfT are looking forward to sight of this report: transformational rail services fit into the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

Source: At a Glance: The Campaign to Reopen the Skipton – Colne railway line (pdf; 5pp).

Quite frankly, if the Government cannot get this simple and straightforward project designed, developed and mobilised to start and be operational by 2025–26 then it really ought to give up on the idea of reopening any railway in the UK.

Excerpt from a letter written by Peter Bryson, chairman of Skipton–East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SETRAP), published in RAIL 917, 4 – 17 November 2020.

Current status

The reopening scheme is currently at Stage 1 of the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline. If the business case produced by Arup meets the DfT’s Decision to Develop criteria, the scheme will progress to Stage 2.

Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline — Department for Transport
Source of graphic and more information: Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, a New Approach for Rail Enhancements, Department for Transport (pdf).

Further reading

At a Glance: The Campaign to Reopen the Skipton – Colne railway line (pdf; 5pp)

Earby station | Reopen entry

Reopening the Skipton–Colne rail line – The Northern Link project – Prospectus document September 2018 (pdf; 16pp)

Re-opening Skipton-Colne rail line is a ‘no brainer’ says building society boss, by Viv Mason, on Craven Herald & Pioneer website (July 2019)

Skipton–East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership – official website

Skipton–East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership – Wikipedia

Skipton to Colne – Brief History, by Alan Young, on Disused Stations website