Tony Greaves calls for continued commitment to Colne-Skipton rail proposal

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Pendle-based Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tony Greaves is asking the new Government for a commitment to continue the feasibility work on the proposal for a new east-west freight railway route across the Pennines, taking in the missing link between Colne and Skipton – which would allow the reinstatement of a passenger service between East Lancashire, Skipton, Leeds and Bradford.

Lord Greaves said: “We all know that the former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was a supporter of this scheme. It is a worry that the new Transport Minister Grant Shapps may never have heard of it. I want to focus his attention onto it before he loses his way in the morass of HS2, HS3, Crossrail, Crossrail 2, new runways, autonomous vehicles, and everything else.”

Lord Greaves has today tabled a parliamentary question in the Lords which reads as follows:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their policy and actions in relation to a possible new “Northern Link” freight line between Liverpool Docks and Yorkshire and the East Coast, including the reinstatement of the track between Colne and Skipton, are unchanged; and if not what is the current position.

The following statement made by the Conservative Pendle MP Andrew
Stephenson was reported in the Nelson Leader/Colne Times:

“The Department for Transport will continue to work with Network Rail and
Transport for the North on how best to realise the potential future
benefits for trans-Pennine freight flows. The Department for Transport do
not recognise Lord Greaves’ quotation from the update given by DfT’s
consultants to SELRAP’s Project Development Group.

“It would be more helpful if Lord Greaves contributed effectively to the
campaign for the reopening of the line rather than issuing sensationalist
press releases intent on furthering his own political agenda.”

This seems to me to be a petulant and unhelpful comment. Perhaps these
points are relevant:

(1) I am amused that Mr Stephenson of all people accuses another
politician of “issuing press releases intent on furthering his own
political agenda.” Perhaps he differentiates between a political agenda
(which I try to promote) and a personal agenda as in “Andrew4Pendle”.

(2) It is indeed a sensational turn of events. But it was reported not by
me but by the campaign group SELRAP which had attended and chaired the
meeting at which the consultants said what they said. Or is Mr Stephenson
saying that SELRAP are not telling the truth?

(3) I took the action I did because I had received from SELRAP the letter
they sent to all MPs along the line, asking them (and me) to raise the
matter with Government Ministers. I did so with the best and proper means
available to me, by asking a Question in the House of Lords.

(4) I do not know what Mr S means by saying I should “contribute
effectively” to the campaign to reopen the line. I have campaigned time
after time in the Lords (and indeed Pendle Council) for the cause. (I
even stopped Pendle from selling off the track bed between Colne station
and Vivary Way.) One thing I did not do is attend the two visits to Colne
Station by former Conservative Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. That
was because Mr Stephenson was playing politics (with public money) and
only invited Councillors from the Conservative Party!

I shall continue to press the case and promote the cause and work closely
with SELRAP in doing so, whatever childish comments are made by Mr
Stephenson.

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