Fleetwood MP Cat Smith hails Government backing for port rail link project

A campaign to revive Fleetwood’s rail link has been given a massive boost after the Department of Transport agreed to fund the development of the line.

By Richard Hunt
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 10:19 am
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 1:58 pm

Minister of State for Transport, Wendy Morton, has announced says that a business case put forward for the scheme by Lancashire County Council last year has been assessed and the Government will support its development.

It also follows a years of a relentless campaign in Fleetwood to get the rail link with Poulton restored, after the service was shut down in 1970 as part of the Beeching efficiency drive to axe more than 2,000 stations.

More than 3,000 signatures from Fleetwood residents three years ago calling for the line’s reinstatement.

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Cat Smith the Get Fleetwood Back on Track petition outside 10 Downing Street

For the past 50 years, Fleetwood has been one of the largest towns in the country which does not have a rail link.

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Councillors, rail groups and a succession of MPs have spent decades campaigning to try and get the service restored, arguing that its loss has been detrimental to the town.

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, who has continued to call for the restoration of the rail link, said she was delighted by the news.

There has been good news on the restoration of Fleetwood's rail link, which was lost in 1970. The main station (pictured) was closed and demolished in the 1960s

She said: “Having campaigned for the re-opening of rail to Fleetwood since I was first elected in 2015 this is a great step forward in getting our town back on track.

"Rail connectivity will be a game changer for Fleetwood and will help our town and all who live here achieve their potential.”

In a statement, Minister of State for Transport Wendy Morton confirmed the development: “Following funding to support submission of a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for the scheme, the Fleetwood SOBC has been assessed and I am pleased to say that the Department would like to support the further development of the scheme by providing further funding from the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

“The assessment considered the strategic and economic case presented, deliverability of the scheme and infrastructure requirements, with a focus on the transport issue and strength of case for intervention.

"This scheme presents potential to reconnect communities in the Fylde Peninsula, and I look forward to seeing it developed further.

"There are several areas identified in the SOBC, in particular demand potential and key cost risks, which need to be better understood.

"The Department will therefore be instructing Network Rail to lead a limited and focused study on these issues to support a decision on advancing the scheme to Outline Business Case development.

“Funding will be provided to Network Rail to work in collaboration with Lancashire County Council (LCC) and other key stakeholders including Blackpool Transport to progress the scheme to the required standard.

"The Department will continue working with the Council and Network Rail on the development of this scheme and are in touch with Philippa Williamson (LCC) regarding next steps. The enclosed feedback also aims to be supportive in this process.

“We expect to announce the progression of schemes into the next stage on 18th June 2022.

"Congratulations on progressing to the next stage.”