Could Fleetwood rail link finally be reborn?

Sweeping reforms on railways being considered by the Government could play a role in the possible re-opening of the Fleetwood to Preston link.

Friday, 1st December 2017, 12:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:48 pm
Transport secretary Chris Grayling
Transport secretary Chris Grayling

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced that rail lines closed during the notorious Beeching cuts of the 1960s could be reopened as part of the proposals.

Fleetwood’s main station shut in 1966 as part of the Beeching cuts, and although Wyre Dock station continued until 1970, its closure has resulted in a town with more than 26,000 residents being without a railway station for over 40 years.

The announcement also comes just weeks after national group, the Campaign for Better Transport, identified the Fleetwood to Preston route as one of the most viable rail routes it wanted to see re-opened.

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Fleetwood railway station in the late 1960s

However, electrification work currently on-going between Blackpool and Preston will effectively sever the direct link between Fleetwood and the national line at Poulton, complicating the issue.

Meanwhile, plans by the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society (PWRS) to run a heritage rail link from Fleetwood to Poulton are still progressing.

Mr Grayling said he wants to identify which routes would boost the economy, encourage house-building and ease overcrowding and said: “Rail passengers deserve a more reliable service and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising.”

Brian Crawford, chairman of PWRS, said: “It’s encouraging news and we’ll wait to see what happens next.”

Fleetwood railway station in the late 1960s

Painful cuts

Thousands of stations and hundreds of branch lines were closed between 1964 and 1970 after a report by British Railways chairman Dr Richard Beeching.

At that time, services to many smaller stations were seen as loss-making.

The Government says its new programme will identify where to restore “capacity offering value for money”.