Derailment leads to beach clean call

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CLEAR up the beach and stop more supertram headaches.

That was the call from Fleetwood today as the town recovered from the shock of seeing the first in-service vehicle derailed because of sand blown onto the tracks.

Locals say the problem has been caused because the nearby beach has been overwhelmed with sand dunes and weeds.

Yesterday afternoon, sand was again being carried by strong winds and landing directly on the spot where the first tram had run into trouble earlier in the day.

A campaign to get the sand dunes removed has been underway for many months.

Chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, Coun Alan Marsh, said: “This is a big issue.

“There is now an urgent need to get this beach cleared up and as it used to be when families could sit there.

“It’s leverage we can use to get this beach cleared up.

“I will be contacting Wyre Council about this. We can‘t have trams stopping every time we have a windy day.

“If this is a problem, let’s remove the problem, unless, of course were are going to send people round clearing the tracks because they will fill up every 10 minutes.”

Tom Norton of Fleetwood Development Partnership said: “This is more reason than ever to get the beach cleaned up. They are spending £100m on modern trams and I can’t believe they are coming off the rails because we can’t move sand.”

Wyre councillor Ron Shewan has been among those campaigning over the beach.

He said: “The tram coming off the tracks was due to sand blowing off the overgrown sand hills that have appeared in this area over recent years.

“If these are reduced back to their historic height then sand would have been blown against the beach wall.”

Wyre Council is prevented from touching the beach because it is in a site of Special Scientific Interest.

A council spokeswoman said: “The plant species found in the dunes tend to hold the sand in position and therefore reduce the amount of wind blown sand. Wind blown sand along coastal frontages is a natural and on-going process and there is very little that can be done to prevent it.”

She added: “The dunes themselves are important habitats for wildlife and plant species and are protected from development. Removal of the sand dunes is prohibited as it would result in the loss of a myriad of protected plants and animals.”

A Blackpool Council spokesmann said: “For this to happen on the first day, on the first journey is unfortunate to say the least.

“When designing the new track and trams the weather conditions of the Fylde Coast have, of course, been taken into consideration. “The trams have been tested on the track for the last six months throughout the winter and we haven’t experienced any problems like this.

“The weather conditions this morning were exceptional and the sand was piling up as quick as we were able to clear it away.

“Within a matter of hours we’d resolved the problem and the full route was operational again by 10am.

“We’ve had hundreds of people on the trams on this first day and we’ve received really positive feedback which is fantastic.”