Ambitious plans to restore Fleetwood’s railway link have received a major boost after cash was made available towards buying a train.
Wyre Council’s Shaping Your Neighbourhood initiative has provided £5,000 towards a two-carriage diesel train which will be the first passenger vehicle acquired to run on the intended service.
Poulton and Wyre Railway Society have match-funded the grant to £10,000 and now need just another £10,000 to buy the “diesel multiple unit”.
The Railway Society is pushing forward with its plans to provide a heritage railway in the area, initially between Thornton and Burn Naze where there is existing track as well as established platforms.
But is hoped to later extend the line to the south end of Fleetwood - at least as far as Chris Allen’s Garage - and also to Poulton,
Society chairman, Eddie Fisher, said: “This council grant is a great help and we are confident of having enough money to buy the diesel multiple unit fairly soon. We are already in negotiations to buy it. Although this service will initially run in the Thornton area, we are serious about extending to Fleetwood, and by linking it to Poulton that opens up even more possibilities.
This council grant is a great help and we are confident of having enough money to buy the diesel multiple unit fairly soon
“To get our first passenger train will be an exciting step forward.”
The unit in question is a former British Rail train in dark green livery which, by virtue of its age, comes under the “heritage” banner.
The voluntary group has spent years removing weeds, tidying up the railway lines and the platforms across Thornton in preparation for its scheme.
It is hoped the train could be in Fleetwood within the next two years.
This latest development comes at an auspicious time; it was 175 years ago this summer that the railway first came to Fleetwood, in July 1840.
Sadly, the town finally lost its rail link in the early 1970s when the service was sidelined.
That decision to cut Fleetwood off has been bitterly lamented ever since, especially as the main trunk road into Fleetwood, the A585, has been subject to heavy congestion which many believe harms Fleetwood’s businesses and the town as a whole.
Fleetwood Civic Society has long been supportive of the railway group’s work and chairman Margaret Daniels said of the latest development: “It is very welcome news.
“It is important that Fleetwood gets some sort of rail link back and the work this group is doing is brilliant.
“The news that they will soon be able to buy a passenger train is very exciting.”
The railway scheme is one of several project in Wyre, including two in Fleetwood, to benefit from this year’s Shaping Your Neighbourhood total of £43,879.