A RAIL link severed in the 1960s is to be reconnected to take 16,000 lorries carrying aggregate off Dales roads.

The work, by Lafarge Tarmac, to link Arcow and Dry Rigg quarries at Helwith Bridge, near Horton in Ribblesdale, to the Settle to Carlisle line, is planned to take place during five days and nights from October 23 to 27.

It will be the culmination of works that started in June, and involves the installation of a new railway embankment and associated rail infrastructure.

Quarry bosses held a special meeting on Tuesday at the Friends Meeting House in Settle, where local residents could ask questions about the project.

Ross Halley, Lafarge Tarmac's head of estates for the north and Scotland, said the company had for a number of years been examining ways in which materials from both sites could be moved by rail in order to reduce the number of lorry journeys.

He added: "Working closely with Network Rail, we have now developed a solution based around the reinstatement of a rail connection linking Arcow to the main Settle to Carlisle line, which was originally removed from operational use in the 1960s.

"Once reopened, the link will enable the transfer of materials by rail, removing the equivalent of more than 16,000 lorry journeys from the local road network each year."

The majority of work will take place during normal working hours, Monday to Friday, and contractors say they will keep any noise or disruption to a minimum.

Twenty-four hour working will be necessary when connecting the rail link to the main line, and alternative transport arrangements will put in place for passengers.

Settle Craven councillor, David Staveley, who sits on the Freight Quality Partnership that focuses on concerns relating to wagon traffic, said: "Anything that is going to limit or reduce the impact of lorry traffic on the town of Settle and the surrounding roads must be considered a positive thing. This project shows a commitment by Lafarge Tarmac to address these issues."

Richard Graham, the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s head of development management, said: “The Arcow Quarry rail link is good news for residents and visitors to Ribblesdale and to the national park because it is taking lorries off the roads.

“In fact, the national park has used its planning powers to reduce road haulage from Ribblesdale quarries by 30 per cent in just two years, and we look forward to working with Lafarge Tarmac and the other quarry operators to reduce the traffic even more.”

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