Progress for Fleetwood rail link revival as study completed

An initial study has now been completed into the feasibility of reopening the Fleetwood to Poulton-le-Fylde railway.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 12:55 pm
Demolition of Fleetwood's main railway station in the 1960s

An initial study has now been completed into the feasibility of reopening the Fleetwood to Poulton-le-Fylde railway.

The study to reopen the railway is now ready to be submitted by Lancashire County Council to the Department for Transport for consideration within the government's 'Restoring Your Railway' programme.

Fleetwood's rail link to Poulton was scrapped in 1970 as part of the controversial Beeching cuts which saw a number of stations throughout the country closed as part of a Government efficiency programme.

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However, the current Government is looking to reopen some of the stations closed and a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC), prepared by Atkins on behalf of Lancashire County Council, examines the case and feasibility for re-opening the five-mile line.

Developed in partnership with the Department for Transport, Blackpool Council, Blackpool Transport, Fleetwood Town Council, Network Rail, Poulton & Wyre Railway Society, Wyre Borough Council, the study looked at three options:

• Restoration of the heavy rail link integrating with the national rail network at Poulton-le-Fylde.

• Extending the existing tram network at Fleetwood Ferry and Poulton-le-Fylde.

• A tram/train hybrid scheme where light rail vehicles are able to operate on both heavy and light rail systems.

A review of existing bus provision has also been carried out, which concludes that improvements to local bus services and interchange with rail services could be delivered as part of the emerging National Bus Strategy.

The study estimated the costs of the three options, ranging from £121m to £251m depending on the mode, form of electrification and frequency of service.

It also found that the reinstated heavy rail link offers an 11-minute journey time from Fleetwood to Poulton and 28 minutes from Fleetwood to Preston. This journey currently takes between 50 and 60 minutes by public transport.

The study will now progress to the next stage, which will involve detailed engineering and design, in depth forecasting and modelling of future demands, and a more detailed value for money analysis. A single preferred option for delivery will also be identified.

Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Restoring the rail link will be transformational for Fleetwood and the Fylde Coast in terms of where people can live, work and access opportunities and I look forward to progressing this project with the Department for Transport and our partners.

"Lancashire County Council has carried out a significant amount of work to get to this point with the project, and we now pass our findings to government in the hope that it will eventually get full backing.

"For the people of Fleetwood and wider Lancashire, this will be a real game changer and we will continue to seek inward investment and opportunities for our residents."

County Councillor Stephen Clarke for Fleetwood West and Cleveleys said: "This is going to be monumental for our town and it will really put Fleetwood on the map.

"This will make it easier for people to get in and out of the town, as well as create more trade and jobs. We hope the government will give this project its full support and backing."