M65 motorway 'could be extended from Lancashire into Yorkshire'

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The M65 motorway could be extended across the Pennines into Yorkshire under plans being considered by transport officials.

Strategic body Transport for the North (TfN) has confirmed that it is working on an appraisal of possible dual carriageway routes between the Lancashire town of Colne, where the M65 currently ends, and the A1(M) in Yorkshire.

Extending the motorway, which currently runs from Preston, Blackburn, Burnley and Colne in Lancashire has been described as a "game-changer" for the county by Northern Powerhouse Minister and local MP Jake Berry, the Lancashire Telegraph reports.

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In a statement, John Cridland, TfN’s chairman, said: “Our work has identified options for providing dual carriageway routes from Colne (M65) to the A1(M) in Yorkshire and will complete work on an initial economic appraisal of this during the early part of 2019.

“Work is at an options assessment stage and additional work is required to consider if the project will be viable as the potential costs and benefits are more clearly identified.”

A spokeswoman for TfN declined to give any further details on the routes being considered as part of the study.

Improving transport links between the east and west of northern England was described as a priority when TfN set out its 30-year strategic vision earlier this year.

And in February Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that a feasibility study will be carried out into the potential re-opening of the Skipton-Colne railway line.

Historic Skipton-Colne railway line could be re-opened

The line, which dates back to the 1840s, has been the subject of years of determined
efforts to bring it back into use since being closed in February 1970.

Re-opening the 12-mile route could create a faster rail link across the Pennines and lead to new passenger services between Lancashire, Skipton and Leeds.

Responding to the news, Keighley MP John Grogan said he had "a number of discussions about the M65 with Highways England and Transport for the North over the last year."

He said: "Heading eastbound on the M65 in Colne towards junction 14 gives a somewhat bizarre sight of a motorway seemingly terminating at a car park.

"For 40 years there has been talk of extending the motorway into Yorkshire to create another cross-Pennine motorway route.

"I think there could be significant advantages in terms of economic regeneration although there would also be environmental concerns to take into account.

"Depending on the results of the current feasibility study I am advised that the Skipton-Colne Railway Link could be built in the period 2020-2025.

"For an extension of the M65 I think you are talking beyond 2030 as the idea is at a very early stage.

"One difference is that the old line of the railway track has largely been kept clear. On the other hand the reserved line at Colne for a road extension was sold long ago for private development and a large factory outlet now stands in the way of the motorway."