The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has been provisionally awarded a grant of £5m from the government’s “Levelling Up Fund” round 3 as part of a £20m package of schemes across Keighley.

Around three years ago, a package of ‘game-changer’ projects was identified that would help secure the railway for future generations and enable us to grasp current opportunities that we currently have to turn down because of operational constraints. The railway worked closely with the team at Bradford Metropolitan District Council to identify funding channels to help us realise our ambition. As a result, the BMDC included our projects in their application for Levelling Up Funding, which was part of a much bigger bid to by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. We are very grateful for the support of BMDC and that of our local MP, Robbie Moore, who has been campaigning at Westminster to secure this funding for Keighley.

The railway recently hosted a visit for Jacob Young, Minster for the Levelling Up at DLUHC. The minister was shown Bridge 27, the subject of our £1m grant success reported just a few weeks ago. The project was discussed in depth with a journey to Bridge 27 on the footplate of 45212 and a trackside visit to the bridge with KWVRPS chairman Matthew Stroh, followed by a whirlwind tour of the railway onboard the L&Y Trust’s Club Car. The Minister took great interest in the plans for the volunteer-led Water Tower project and the current refurbishment work by Network Rail at Keighley.

The projects included within the £5m grant involve the upgrade of signalling at Keighley and installation of signals at Haworth loop; overhauling the DMU fleet and establishing a DMU/diesel depot; and the provision of rail access to the depot. Whilst there was mention in the media about “commuter” services, this has confused long-past discussions about such a service. What the package of projects will do is to improve the operational flexibility of the line, meaning that we are well-placed to respond to future passenger demands and expectations whilst continuing to deliver our programme of maintenance that is vital to running a 150+ year old branch line.