Full steam ahead for Fylde railway

WYRE railway enthusiasts said they were delighted by suggestions it could be full steam ahead for the Poulton to Fleetwood railway.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has called for the rail link to be re-established after finding there was a good economic case to re-open the tracks.

If the route is successfully safeguarded it would link up to 58,000 passengers to the main line at Poulton.

John Goy, chairman of Poulton and Wyre Railway Society which has been campaigning to re-open the line, said: "We are excited about an opportunity to re-instate railway services. There is an opportunity for commuters and tourists."

The Fleetwood link is among 14 new lines and 40 stations across the country to have been identified by ATOC in a report called Connecting Communities.

Michael Roberts ATOC chief executive said: "Record passenger numbers and rising demand require us to plan for the long term, while climate change and population growth make it vital that in doing so, we adapt the rail network to meet tomorrow's needs.

"We have established that there is a strong business case for investment to bring towns like Fleetwood back onto the rail network.

Now we need to safeguard these routes and develop the detailed case for investment."

The report suggests that new stations could be built at Thornton and Fleetwood. The existing track would be used for most of the route with only a small section having to be reconstructed between Burn Naze and Fleetwood.

The Fleetwood line lost its passenger service in 1970, but freight trains continued over much of the route until 1999.

Poulton and Wyre Railway Society, which has also been working on plans to run a heritage service using steam trains at weekends, now hope to liaise with ATOC to ensure both parties are on the same track.

He added: "We are very keen that ATOC has this on their agenda. We would love to work with them - take our plans and their plans and merge them together."

ATOC will now carry out further analysis with train operators, Network Rail and local authorities over the next nine months to validate the work undertaken so far.

Safeguarding would then be taken forward by Network Rail in conjunction with local authorities and with the involvement of the Department for Transport through the Route Utilisation Strategy process.

Justified schemes could be implemented from 2014.