Minister’s pledge on rail link

Demolition of Fleetwood Railway Station 1966-69
Demolition of Fleetwood Railway Station 1966-69

The Secretary of State for Transport has agreed to look into helping re-open Fleetwood’s lost railway line, after being told of the horrendous transport issues still affecting the town.

Minister Patrick McLoughlin was told Fleetwood had lost its ferry links, had no railway, and was being stifled by the log-jammed A585.

The case for Fleetwood’s rail link being restored was put to him at a public question and answer session at the town’s Rossall School.

The minister was told that Fleetwood was the largest town in the country not to be serviced by any rail link.

And although Mr McLoughlin half-dismissed that claim, he did say he would look into the issue.

With the lack of any rail link and with congestion problems on the A585 into Fleetwood, which could eventually be eased by a planned new by-pass, transport issues are currently a major concern for the town and local businesses.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Every other town tells me it is the largest in the UK without a railway, I hear that quite a lot!

“But it is fair to say that I am under pressure to open up old railway stations and we are looking into it.

“I have heard quite a lot about Fleetwood’s case from my right honourable friend, Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw.”

The theme was also broached at the meeting by a member of the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society, which is hoping to restore Fleetwood’s rail link, first as a heritage rail, then as a commuter service to and from Poulton.

The Society plans to begin by linking Thornton to Burn Naze, then stretching the line back to Poulton, before finishing off with the link to Fleetwood, initially as far as Jameson Bridge at a total cost of around just £2m.

Fleetwood man Dave Evans voiced concern that Network Rail was planning to remove a point on the track at Poulton, due to a new electrification scheme, which would cut the heritage line off from the main network.

This would make it more difficult for any future, more ambitious plans to introduce an additional freight service to Fleetwood.

Mr Evans told the minister: “A freight link would relieve the A585 by serving local businesses, so it would be a shame for us to be disconnected.”

The minister replied: “I will make some inquiries about it.”

Later Mr Evans said: “I wanted to put this issue to the transport minister and was pleased that he seemed supportive, but we only had a couple of minutes.

“I will be sending him an email to keep it in his mind.”

With more than £40m of Government cash now being made available for the new dual carriageway bypass for the A585, between Windy Harbour and the River Wyre roundabout at Skippool, Mr McLoughlin came to the meeting armed with something positive to say.

The A585 has been a problem for businesses in Thornton, Cleveleys and Fleetwood for some 20 years.

But he still had to face the question of whether this was an election stunt and whether the cash would actually be forthcoming.

Mr McLoughlin said: “The money has already been put in place,

“One of the most important things is to have good infrastructure links so that business traffic can get in and out of towns effectively.

“One thing I am pleased about is to see money being made available for that.”

Derek Eaton, chairman of Fleetwood Chamber of Trade, said: “At least the minister came, he saw and heard about things for himself.

“That has to be welcomed.

“But the A585 is a real a problem.

“It is the lifeline for Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Thornton but for too long it has been terrible and the recent road repairs have caused far more disruption than they should have.”

Mr McLoughlin said he expected the new by-pass to be complete by 2020.