A DELEGATION from the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway has visited Government ministers in London to get wheels turning on a bid to re-connect the rail line to Skipton - and bring a multi-million pound boost to the area.

Representatives of the group made a presentation to members of the Parliamentary committee on heritage railways in London, in which they outlined plans to extend the link back into Skipton.

And they told ministers the railway needs to secure around £2.6m to get the project on track.

The railway's business manager Stephen Walker said: "From our point of view it was a very successful meeting. Members listened attentively and they seemed to understand the benefits the plan would bring. We are very optimistic that we can get the cash to go ahead."

A feasibility study into the long-term development of what was then the Embsay Steam Railway was carried out in 1992.

One of the long-term goals it came up with was a reconnection of the line to Skipton.

This was to be completed only after the line was extended to Bolton Abbey and engineering facilities developed at Embsay, work which has now been undertaken.

A recent feasibility study by Network Rail on a Skipton connection has shown both that it is practicable and would cost around £2.6m.

The current Embsay-Bolton Abbey line is five miles long. The railway operates on 150 days a year and carries more than 100,000 passengers.

Railway chiefs are confident that a link into Skipton and subsequent connection to the national rail network will further boost the local economy by millions of pounds every year.