THE case for extending the East Lancashire Line across The Pennines by reopening rail link from Colne to Skipton is now on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's desk.
One of his ministers this week confirmed he had received the feasibility study on the project and that a decision is imminent.
Junior Transport Minister Baroness Liz Sugg was replying to a Parliamentary Question from Pendle peer Lord Tony Graves who praised the work on campaign group SELRAP (The Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership).
He told her: "Just before Christmas, you referred to a feasibility study into the reinstatement of the Skipton-Colne rail link as part of a route for passengers and freight.
"This has recently been completed by the Steer group, at a cost of nearly £1 million, and submitted to the Transport Secretary.
"If this major new freight route across the north of England is built, it will provide a route from Liverpool docks, via Skipton-Colne, to Leeds and Yorkshire, and up the east coast main line to the Yorkshire coast and to Drax. Is this not a scheme that, at a fraction of the cost of any new major scheme in the south-east or London, could provide a major freight route across the north of England within three or four years?
"Will the government make this a priority?"
Baroness Sugg replied: "You rightly highlights the benefits that the scheme could bring. We have received the feasibility study. We are looking at it carefully and we will make an announcement on it shortly."
Lord Greaves said: “This really is crunch time for re-opening the line from Colne to Skipton. SELRAP have done a wonderful job keeping the dream, alive.
“If we want our railway service back and a fast service from Burnley through to the Aire Valley and Leeds, this is the way to get it. Everyone must work together on this.
"I promise to keep pressing for the government to make a decision to proceed to the next stage – to develop a clear proposal that can be subject to detailed design work."
Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss and Transport for the North board member, said: "We are pleased there will be an announcement soon and hope it will be a favourable one. This relatively affordable scheme would benefit not just Pendle and Burnley but Hyndburn and Blackburn with Darwen."
Jane Wood, SELRAP's media officer, said: "We are hoping for an early decision and the right one. We feel very positive."