We had driven up to Fleetwood’s grand railway hotel, the North Euston, then danced and dined. I stepped outside for some air in the sunshine and there he was, Michael Portillo!
TV’s rail champion was filming an eighth series of Great British Railway Journeys, and was kind enough to say hello to a fan and shake my hand.
She Who Knows was envious when I returned to our table. It got us talking about transport. Since early retirement we now run one car and use more buses – or I tried.
A passenger soon experiences problems: timetables are regularly ‘reorganised’ – or cut back; routes are longer and more complicated; buses fewer and less convenient.
There were once buses near us every 10 minutes – to all points of the compass. Train links were great too.
Historically, when quiet avenues were lined only with trees, trams ran every few minutes and traversed the coast. Who’d want a car, except for a drive into the countryside (for which one could be hired at a garage)?
Now I wait up to half an hour for a slow, crowded bus to South Shore then, if wanting to travel on to Lytham, am best changing to trains – only every hour. What’s more, my return bus stops running early evening.
There is talk of restoring a rail link to the formerly magnificent Fleetwood terminus. Meanwhile, however, trams and the ferry struggle for funding. Also, here in Blackpool, a handy – if expensive – tram link from North station to the Promenade is blueprinted.
But have our leaders really wanted more public transport? If so, why not preserve architectural heritage like Blackpool Central, rather than pouring asphalt for more parking?
Cars, of course, bring in easy public income from charges and fines.
It would have been interesting to discuss all this with Michael. Typically, though, his young crew were rushing to their cars.
* For Roy’s books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com