Blackpool MPs at odds over bold tram extension plan

Trans to Lytham's vision of how  running trams on the Blackpool South line might look
Trans to Lytham's vision of how running trams on the Blackpool South line might look

Blackpool North Tory MP Paul Maynard’s ambitious proposal to extend the Fylde coast tram system would be too costly, his resort rival has said.

Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden said the work would cost approaching half a billion pounds and, in the current climate, would be unlikely to go ahead.

But Mr Maynard, who has submitted his ideas to the Department of Transport, said he was pleased with the initial reaction to his plans which would see the Blackpool South line converted from trains to trams and the mothballed Fleetwood to Poulton line.

He said he would be willing to talk to any interested parties. He said: “It gives me optimism that people might put aside party affiliation to get behind a scheme which could benefit everyone.

“I have supported the reopening of the Poulton-Fleetwood line for many years, and why as Rail Minister I developed what is called the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline to ensure there was – for the first time – a specific pot of money to help develop these schemes.

"Since then I have considered schemes around the country, consulted with businesses, Councils, Blackpool Transport and many others to put together an initial outline proposal that we can then take forward.

“It is certainly my intention to ensure that the plans for the heritage line are not in any way disadvantaged by any wider scheme, and I will happily meet with the Society as I have done in the past.”

Gordon Marsden said: “The proposal for South Shore which would lead to the scrapping of Blackpool South station concerns me greatly. Fylde MP Mark Menzies and I have put a lot of effort into getting a passing loop for that line.

“I am not sure this proposal, with a change from train to tram, will encourage more people to visit from Preston or Manchester and it would not aid the area’s regeneration.”