PRESS RELEASE 22nd August 2023
“East Lancashire Shunted Aside by Transport for the North” Campaign group SELRAP has studied Transport for the North’s (TfN) latest strategy and believes several big communities in East Lancashire – especially Pendle, Burnley, Accrington and Blackburn – have been shunted aside. There is nothing in TfN’s latest plan to improve this region’s dire transport connections into the powerhouse cities of Leeds and Bradford.
As of today, these hard-pressed communities have the worst levels of economic and social deprivation anywhere in England. Since the pandemic, the economic situation in several of these key marginal Red Wall constituencies has worsened. Unbelievably, today’s train journey from Pendle or central Burnley into Leeds, just 25 miles away, takes over two hours. Reopening the “12-mile long missing link” strategic railway Skipton to Colne would directly connect East Lancashire with central Leeds, thus offering faster and quite-transformational journey times of about an hour. This “missing link” will therefore give several very large communities far better access to many good education and employment opportunities.
SELRAP’s Chair, Peter Bryson says: “TfN plans to spend £29 billion on rail improvements in the North over the next 25 years, but not a penny is coming to East Lancashire. Thus TfN has simply ignored the pledges made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt when they relaunched, in Accrington earlier this year, the Conservative’s manifesto commitments to Level-Up the UK”
Accordingly, to deliver on this government’s recent promises to Level Up, SELRAP is now calling on Transport for the North to make Skipton and Colne their top priority project."
Note to Editors
a) SELRAP is the campaign group: Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership.
b) SELRAP has been campaigning for 20 years to reopen the 12-mile long Skipton to Colne railway northern powerhouse cities of Leeds and Bradford.
c) SELRAP has about 500 members and enjoys wide support from politicians and key business.
d) This project would cost £300million (approx. 1% of the total for Northern Powerhouse Rail).
e) Of over three hundred councils throughout England, as of today three out of the five councils in East Lancashire are now in the most-economically deprived 5%. The situation is getting worse, not better.