Calls for Fleetwood's railway line to be reconnected

A new petition has been launched to gather support for the return of Fleetwood's rail link.

Thursday, 28th December 2017, 10:28 am
Updated Thursday, 28th December 2017, 10:30 am
Part of the old Fleetwood railway line

The campaign has been started by Fleetwood Town Council member, Coun Mary Stirzaker, who believes the timing is now right to push for the return of the amenity which was finally axed in 1970.

And Coun Stirzaker is calling on Fleetwood folk to get behind the petition and show government officials that there is a real will in the town to get the link re-instated - and a need for it happen.

With transport minister Chris Grayling recently announcing that sweeping new reforms could pave the way for the possible re-opening of lines axed by the Beeching Cuts of the 1960s, Coun Stirzaker says it is vital to launch the campaign now.

She said; “We are a town of more than 26,000 people who are literally at the end of the line. We are on a peninsular and at the mercy of terrible road infrastructures, with awful congestion.

“Fleetwood has a First Division football club, yet this town don’t even have a railway station.

“Enough is enough – if the Government is serious about making more of our railway systems, it should look at this petition and take it onboard.”

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said: “I look forward to meeting the Rail Minister in the New Year to press the case for Fleetwood’s railway.”

The petition can be accessed at wording states: “There is a need in Fleetwood for decent transport links on the grounds of deprivation and poor economy. “People have to travel for an hour during rush hour to get to the nearest station 5 miles away.

“Commuter rail is essential to rebuild our economy.”

If the petition gathers 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond.

Should the campaign reach 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.

The petition has six months to run and reaches its deadline on June 20, 2018.

On the first day of the petition being launched, it was signed by more than 300 people.

There is widespread support across the town for the re-instatement of the rail link, including the backing of docks owner, Associated British Ports.

ABP’s divisional port manager for the North West, Carl Bevan, said that the company was currently engaged in a review of proposals to re-develop the docks, in particular the multi-million pound Fleetwood Quays scheme recently highlighted in the Weekly News.

In a new statement, Mr Bevan said; “The scheme is likely to benefit substantively from a reopening of the railway line directly accessing Wyre Dock and Fleetwood.

“In light of the recent statement by the Secretary of State for Transport advocating the reopening of the former rail links to the towns and communities, ABP places utmost importance on the future utilisation of the line from Poulton into Wyre Dock.”

And national group, the Campaign for Better Transport, has identified the Fleetwood to Preston route as one of the most viable rail routes it wanted to see re-opened.

There are still a number of issues to consider.

A heritage scheme is being proposed by Poulton and Wyre Railway Society, estimated to be ready to link Fleetwood to Poulton within 10 years. Coun Stirzaker supports this but would like to see the link become more than a heritage amenity.

There is the fact the line currently ends at Jameson Road and, because of more recent development, it could prove challenging taking the line further into Fleetwood.

Another factor is that electrification of the Fylde coast rail route is set to sever the direct line from Poulton into Fleetwood.

But Coun Stirzaker said: “Time is of the essence, we can’t wait for this.

“Ideally I would line to see the line to Fleetwood also given full electrification and brought back into the full network.”