Key step forward for South Fylde rail service increase plan

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The bid to double the number of services on the South Fylde Line with the introduction of a loop line has taken a key step forward with all the major partners meeting for the first time.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies, along with his Blackpool South counterpart Scott Benton, last year lodged a Restoring Your Railway bid for the loop line and the Government awarded an initial £50,000 to help create a Strategic Outline Business case for the project.

Representatives of Fylde Council, which is leading on the scheme, met – virtually, because of lockdown – with Mr Menzies’ and Mr Benton's offices, Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council, Northern Rail, Network Rail, the Department for Transport, and Community Rail Lancashire to plan out the next steps in the process.

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Mr Menzies said: “This was a landmark meeting. The interested groups agreed a way forward and we will be completing our grant offer letter by the end of March.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies at St Annes stationFylde MP Mark Menzies at St Annes station
Fylde MP Mark Menzies at St Annes station

“The Strategic Outline Business Case we need to prepare will look at all options for improving the line. We need to look at connectivity with Preston, the implications on the wider rail timetable, and a full cost benefit analysis including projected passenger numbers.

“One service per hour, many of which are cancelled, is simply not reliable enough to use for Fylde’s residents or visitors.

“It’s clear everyone at the meeting wants to see this line improved and I’m delighted to see the project moving forwards quickly.”

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The hope is for a loop line to be installed somewhere between Lytham and St Annes to allow services to operate twice as frequently as the current one each way per hour. No specific timescale for when the work might take place has yet been mooted.

The line, linking Preston with Blackpool South via Kirkham and Wesham, Lytham, St Annes, Squires Gate and the Pleasure Beach, was reduced to single track in the 1980s.

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