A COMMUNITY rail group in the Dales has helped to launch a national campaign to highlight the benefits of using the railway network to see some of the country's finest tourist sights.

Members of the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, or The Bentham Line, were at Lancaster Station to help launch the new 'Scenic Rail Britain' website, which encourages tourists to travel more sustainably and pleasantly by train, yesterday, Wednesday.

They have also been promoting their award-winning 'Rail to Trail' walking and cycling scheme, linking stations on the line and their new mini-coach service from Bentham station through the Forest of Bowland.

The line goes via Skipton through stations at Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Giggleswick, Clapham and Bentham.

Gerald Townson, chairman of the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership, said: “The Scenic Rail Britain campaign is a great opportunity for us to promote our wonderful railway line to thousands of commuters and potential visitors.

"We know that Yorkshire has so much to offer domestic and foreign visitors: beautiful valleys, rugged landscapes and picture-perfect coastlines.

"We hope that Scenic Rail Britain will help us get that across to wider audiences, and encourage people to visit by rail rather than car.

"It’s an enjoyable way to travel that gives a different perspective, benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”

The Bentham Line is part of the nationwide Association of Community Rail Partnerships, which brings together more than 50 groups throughout Britain.

The organisation claims that tourism by rail has increased by more than 30 per cent over the last decade, with approximately three million annual visitors using the train as part of their trip, adding £510m to the UK economy.

The association's chief executive, Jools Townsend, said: “Many people don’t realise the scope for seeing Britain’s stunning landscapes, pretty villages and historic sites by rail – and making use of our wonderful, often little-known, ‘community rail’ lines, like the Bentham Line, is a great way to do this.

"Anyone thinking of making a trip, or wanting to find out more about what’s on their doorstep, can check out scenicrailbritain.com, for practical tips, itineraries and inspiration.”