Boris Johnson urged to renew backing for Fleetwood railway restoration
The Prime Minister has been implored to continue to back a plan to reconnect Fleetwood to the rail network following the results of a study into the possibility.
During a 2019 general election campaign visit to Thornton station - on the line between Poulton and Fleetwood which closed in 1970 - Boris Johnson said that a town [the size of Fleetwood] should have a railway”.
A £100,000 feasibility investigation undertaken since - the conclusions of which were published last month - will now form the basis of a submission to the government’s Restoring Your Railways Fund.
Lancashire County Council’s chief executive will also write to Downing Street asking Mr. Johnson once again to commit his “personal support” to ensure that the scheme comes to fruition as soon as possible.
The letter was called for by Fleetwood West county councillor Stephen Clarke and backed at a meeting of the full council.
County Cllr Clarke said that the town needed to see the line back in action in order to “encourage industry to return to the area” and support those businesses that had continued to use Fleetwood as their base.
“Fleetwood...needs, urgently, an improved transport system to ensure the town can grow again.
“The roads in Fleetwood [are] overcrowded and totally inadequate. The restoration of this line is needed to really improve the area, the economy - and ensure residents have a transport link which is prepared for the future,” the Conservative politician said.
Labour’s member for Fleetwood East, Lorraine Beavers, welcomed the fact that the feasibility study had come down on the side of a rail link rather than an alternative plan for a tram system. She said that trains were “the only answer to the future prosperity of Fleetwood”.
“Rail will unclog the A585 and save hours in travel time for education and employment. The district of Wyre currently has just one station that is currently without adequate car parking.
“Fleetwood has the space for a station and the space for [a] park and ride car park.
“The town needs this so we can start to rebuild our once-prosperous town into a place of hope and jobs and dreams again,” County Cllr Beavers added.
The study found that a reinstated heavy rail link would offer an 11-minute journey time from Fleetwood to Poulton and 28 minutes from Fleetwood to Preston - a trip that currently takes up to an hour by public transport.
Cabinet member for highways and transport Charlie Edwards said that circumstances had changed since he had previously come out in support of the tram option prior to being appointed to his current role. He said that heavy rail had not been the government’s priority until Boris Johnson came to power - and that the Fleetwood study had shown that restoration of the line to Poulton was “really feasible”.
Meanwhile, Poulton-le-Fylde division member Alf Clempson paid tribute to the work of the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society, whose volunteers have spent years clearing huge swathes of the track and “keeping the dream alive when there appeared little hope”.