Prime Minister's pledge to re-open Fleetwood railway line
Prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to re-open the disused railway line between Poulton and Fleetwood which he says could bring jobs and growth to the Fylde coast.
Mr Johnson saw for himself the progress already made to revive the route during a visit to Thornton Railway Station on Friday as part of the launch of a £500m national fund to restore closed down tracks.
He said: "This will have a massive impact. Fleetwood alone has a population of 28,000 and a town that size should have a railway.
"All my experience running municipal transport on a bigger scale is that investment in affordable transport for people can make a huge difference. It's the best thing we can do.
"It's good for the environment, takes cars off the road, reduces congestion and frustration for people, and improves the quality of their lives.
"It gives confidence to business to invest in a community when they know there is good mass transit."
Initially cash from the fund will be used for a feasability study into the best way of re-using the track - which could be for a traditional railway or a light rail scheme as part of a Fylde-wide tram loop.
Mr Johnson's visit also coincided with an announcement by the Conservatives of incentives to boost the high street.
This includes a cut in business rates for shops with rateable values less than £51,000 which could reduce bills by an average of £1,400.
Mr Johnson said it was vital to boost towns like Blackpool and Fleetwood so people growing up in them got the same chances as those in more prosperous parts of the country.
He said: "I'm convinced one of the reasons people voted for Brexit is they felt the potential of the country was not being properly harnessed."
He added: "Too many people feel when they grow up in some parts of this country, they have to go somewhere else, to a big city like London, to find fantastic jobs.
"If we put in good infrastructure, housing and education, the opportunities will be in the local area."
Mr Johnson was shown the work which had already gone on to restore the Poulton to Fleetwood line by members of the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society.
The seven miles of track closed in 1999 with the demise of ICI. It is 180 years old and was the first railway to serve a coastal resort.