TRANSPORT chiefs have agreed to explore re-opening the Skipton to Colne rail line, after pleas from campaigners.

The One North group will examine the proposal, as part of its £15bn blueprint to improve road and rail links across the Pennines.

The move follows protests that the group – backed by Chancellor George Osborne – is dominated by five big cities; Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Now One North will also consider the case for reinstating the 11.5 mile missing section of railway between Skipton and Colne, which was closed in 1970.

Quizzed by MPs at Westminster, Dr Jon Lamonte, who is also chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester, said One North had only recently received a proposal.

He said: “I am very well aware that there is a very strong body from that area who want to look at that. We have not looked at it very carefully yet.”

However, asked specifically by the chairman of the transport select committee if it would be considered, Dr Lamonte replied: “Absolutely.”

The move will delight the Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership (SELRAP), which has fought a long campaign to reopen the Skipton to Colne line - built in 1848.

Furthermore, Mr Osborne has said he is ready to fund viable proposals in One North’s submission, as part of his plans to for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ of better-connected places.

However, the price could be steep. Back in 2008, Network Rail put the bill at £43m for a single-track line or £81m for a double-track line.