Council seeks Prime Minister's backing for rail link bid

Friday, July 16, 2021

Lancashire County Council is writing to the Prime Minister to ask for his continued personal support in the reopening of a rail link which could play a vital role in the levelling up agenda.

Boris Johnson backed proposals to reopen the railway line between Poulton and Fleetwood in November 2019 when he visited Fleetwood to launch the government's Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The programme invites local communities to bid for funding to reinstate railway infrastructure, such as branch lines and stations, which have closed in the past.

A notice of motion to this week's Full Council meeting (Thursday 15 July) introduced by County Councillor Stephen Clarke, who represents Fleetwood and Cleveleys, received unanimous backing. It said:

"This council commends Her Majesty's Government for the support it has given to the reinstatement of the rail link between Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde and resolves that the chief executive writes to the Prime Minister, asking him to continue to give the project his personal support to ensure it comes to fruition as soon as possible."

Lancashire County Council has already carried out a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to look into the options for reopening the Poulton to Fleetwood line. The study found that the line could be reopened for 'heavy' rail to integrate with the national rail network, 'light' rail as an extension of the Blackpool Tram route, or a hybrid system using vehicles which could operate on both heavy and light rail systems.

Depending on the chosen option, reopening the line could result in travel times as quick as 11 minutes between Fleetwood and Poulton, a journey which currently takes at least 30 minutes by bus, and 28 minutes from Fleetwood to Preston, which currently takes over an hour by bus and train.

County Councillor Charlie Edwards, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We have already completed an initial study into the feasibility of reopening the Poulton to Fleetwood railway line.

"This has now been submitted to the Department for Transport as part of a bid for funding to further develop the business case under the Restoring Your Railway programme.

"The case has been developed in partnership with Fleetwood Town Council, Network Rail, the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society and Wyre Borough Council and enjoys widespread support from Wyre residents and local MPs.

"The Prime Minister outlined his support for the scheme when he came to Fleetwood to launch the national funding programme, and I'm pleased that county councillors have agreed to support this motion to write to him to ask for his personal support with our bid to enable us to deliver this important scheme as quickly as possible.

"Ensuring people can travel quickly and efficiently using public transport transforms people's options for where they can live and work, and this scheme could be a key component of the government's 'levelling up' agenda."

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