A PUBLIC consultation on the possibility of the Manchester to Clitheroe train service being extended to Hellifield and on to the Settle and Carlisle line as far as Garsdale, is being strongly supported by a rail user group.

A bid by the Ribble Valley Borough Council into the Department for Transport’s ‘Restoring Your Railway’ fund, has passed the first hurdle, and a strategic outline business case is now being developed by a consultancy on behalf of the council.

While the study’s basic remit is to examine extending Clitheroe services to Hellifield, the public consultation asks for views on other options, such as running a new daily service from Preston to Hellifield, and extending trains beyond Hellifield, whether to Settle and Garsdale or to Skipton.

Paul Levet, of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL) said: “The prospect of a year-round Garsdale-Clitheroe-Manchester service is really exciting.”

Mr Levet, who has been building the case for such a new service for several years, added: “No capital expenditure will be needed, and only one extra train unit will provide a two-hourly service. It would be a huge boost for the communities around Hawes, Settle and Hellifield if they had direct trains to Clitheroe, Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester for access to a wide range of facilities, while offering car-free access to this part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to a great many people.”

Transport and socio-economic benefits, are a key part of the study, and FoSCL is urging residents and businesses to complete the survey document, and to tick the ‘A two-hourly service between Manchester/Preston, Clitheroe and Hellifield extended to Settle and Garsdale’ option.

The survey, which closes on March 10 can be found by searching for: Clitheroe to Hellifield Strategic Outline Business Case - Public Engagement.