SELRAP - Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership

SELRAP - Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership

The mission of the Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP) is to campaign for reinstatement of the strategic trans-Pennine route linking Colne (Lancashire) with Skipton (North Yorkshire) as part of the national rail network and to ensure that the trackbed and its structures are protected until that aim is attained.

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.

Skipton-Colne and the East Lancashire Line

The missing section of railway between Skipton and Colne is 11.5 miles in length; it was closed in January 1970 although it was not a target under the Beeching Axe.

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 [ [ Lancashire County Council brochure] ] . Colne is currently served by one train per hour which traverses the 50 mile East Lancashire Line from Blackpool South railway station via Preston, Blackburn, Burnley and many station stops at intermediate towns with a total journey time in excess of 100 minutes. The route is affected by numerous Permanent Speed Restrictions particularly at junctions. Skipton is on the Airedale Line and is served by frequent electric trains which reach Leeds in around 40 minutes [ [] ] .

The East Lancashire Line as far as Colne was once part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. However, the missing Colne - Skipton stretch was built in 1848 as an extension of the Leeds and Bradford Railway.

The reinstatement proposal

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 [ [ Skipton-Colne Railway Report] ] . 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 [ [ Re-Opening Of The Skipton to Colne Railway] ] .

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. [ [ Lancashire and Cumbria Route Utilisation Strategy: Draft for public consultation] ]

The trackbed is protected for transport use under the planning policies of Craven District Council [ [ Craven District Council] ] , and the Pendle Local Plan [ [ Pendle Local Plan] ] , the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan and Lancashire County Council LTP2 [ [ Joint Lancashire Structure Plan and Lancashire County Council LTP2] .]

SELRAP's activities

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 consultants to investigate the business case for reopening the line.


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 not be mutually exclusive. 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 shall 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.

External links

* [ Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership’s website]


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