Plans to get Fleetwood back on the rail network will take a significant step forward this week, thanks to a group of volunteers.
A detailed business plan outlining how the long lost link can be restored is set to go before the three organisations able to determine if the scheme can move forward.
If the green light is given, the funding bids can officially begin – and the projected cost of the scheme is lower than many might expect – under £1m.
Poulton and Wyre Railway Society has been working on the rail link restoration project since 2006 and is at last in a position to put its plans forward to the three key stakeholders – Wyre Council, Lancashire County Council and Network Rail.
Businesses in Fleetwood and Wyre, councillors and the town’s MP Eric Ollerenshaw all want to see trains return to Fleetwood for the first time in decades.
The scheme has won widespread support from business and community leaders.
And the Railway Society’s exciting plans go much further than just restoring a commuter passenger link between Fleetwood, Poulton and employment hubs in Manchester, East Lancashire and elsewhere.
The railway could bring lower costs for business transport, provision of more services and greater choice of goods in the town – ability to reach new markets and huge prospects for economic growth.
A separate part of the plan involves an exciting heritage scheme which could help regenerate the town of Fleetwood itself, with steam trains bringing huge numbers of visitors into the port at weekends.
Garry Payne, chief executive of Wyre Council, has welcomed the plans.
He said: “We are really pleased things seem to be moving along. Wyre Council is fully supportive of opening the line, which is why we have paid for a study into it.
“A train service from Poulton to Fleetwood would not only offer customers an alternative sustainable means of the travel to the car, it would also open up further investment opportunities and the subsequent creation of job.”
Fleetwood town councillor Jack Harrison, has campaigned to bring the railway link back in the past and said: “The return of the rail link would be a great boost for Fleetwood. It’s got great potential.”
And businesswoman Caroline Boot, of high street store Forget-Me-Not, said: “Anything that would bring visitors to Fleetwood would be welcome.
“I have seen the work the Society has done to tidy up the tracks in Thornton, so this is a positive move.”