A study into the potential re-opening of a historic rail link between Skipton and Lancashire was expected to be announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today.
Mr Grayling was set to visit the Lancashire town of Colne this morning to announce a feasibility study into the value of bringing the 11-and-a-half mile Skipton-Colne line back into use.
The route, which opened in October 1848, has been the subject of years of determined efforts to bring it back into use since being closed in February 1970.
As well as making it much harder for people in Lancashire to reach Skipton for work, and vice versa, the lack of a rail link between the two nearby towns is said to limit the vital East-West transport connections the North needs to thrive.
Representatives from Drax and Skipton Building Society were both at a recent meeting in Westminster which was seen by campaigners as a turning point in their fight to re-open the line.
The Westminster meeting was attended by MPs from both parties, as well as representatives from Lancashire, Bradford and North Yorkshire councils, professional services firm Arup and Peel Ports in Liverpool.
In November, Mr Grayling announced plans to expand the rail network by restoring services lost under the Beeching cuts in a bid to increase jobs and growth.
The Government said it will invite proposals to re-open lines that were closed down following reports by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s, or under later British Rail cuts in the 1970s.
It is understood that the feasibility study for the Skipton-Colne line is being co-commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North and will be completed later in 2018.
Keighley MP John Grogan, who campaigned for the re-opening of the line, said: “This announcement follows an intensive cross party campaign over the last year backed by business such as Drax Power Station and both Liverpool and Hull Ports.
“Restoring the link between Skipton and Colne Is by far the cheapest and quickest way of increasing Trans Pennine rail links for both freight and passenger traffic. There is now the realistic prospect that the industrial towns on both sides of the Pennines like Burnley and Keighley will be linked by rail to each other and to Leeds and Manchester sometime before 2025.”