Plans to restore old rail line back on track?

An under-used and historic railway line could be given a new lease of life to improve links between Clitheroe and Hellifield.

Wednesday, 7th February 2018, 11:30 am
Leader of the council Ken Hind with Nigel Evans MP
Leader of the council Ken Hind with Nigel Evans MP

Ribble Valley councillors are calling on transport bosses to press ahead for the restoration of passenger services to Hellifield from Clitheroe on the Ribble Valley Line.

They are also appealing to breathe new life into closed stations in Chatburn, Gisburn and Newsholme.

The track is already in place, but is only open for freight, periodic diversions for engineering work and the occasional commissioned steam locomotive. The passenger service was terminated at Clitheroe in 1962.

Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Mr Ken Hind, is optimistic the restoration of the line could help create new economic opportunities.

He explained: “We have decided, as a council, to lobby Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Chris Grayling MP, Network Rail and Northern trains to reintroduce passenger trains on the line to Hellifield. This links Clitheroe to Skipton, Leeds and Bradford to the east and Lancaster and Carlisle to the west coast mainline to the east. It will also help promotion of the Settle - Carlisle excursion trains.

“This will mean trains connected from Hellifield to Manchester Victoria through Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley. It could also mean reopening stations at Chatburn, Gisburn and Newsholme on route.”

The reopening of the rail line has been something Clitheroe rail enthusiast, Peter Brass, has campaigned for several years.

Coun. Hind added: “This plan takes cars off congested roads and brings more tourists to the Ribble Valley. It is a sensible extension of the Northern Powerhouse transport policy at a relatively low cost.

“This plan forms part of the council’s approved proposals to drive the Ribble Valley economy to create more jobs, particularly for our young people and further strengthen our strong tourist industry.

“For the council I would like to pay tribute to Mr Brass and the enthusiasts of the Ribble Rail Group who have kept this issue alive and tirelessly campaigned to restore.”

“Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is asking for a meeting with Mr Grayling at which the chairman of the Ribble Valley Economic Development Committee, Coun. Rupert Swarbrick and myself will put the councils arguments forward.”