NEXT STOP LYTHAM
Once upon a time it was possible to get on a tram at Fleetwood and with a change at the Gynn - continue one's journey by tram all the way to Lytham Square via Ansdell and St Annes. A strenuous effort by Blackpool Transport's General Manager in the mid 1930s' to purchase the Lytham St Annes municipal transport operation (a continuous loss maker) so that Blackpool's modern trams of the time could continue their journey further south to St Annes, was denied by typical small minded local politicians determined to maintain a distance from their northern neighbour with its boistrous (and succcessful) holiday image.
So the potential of a Fleetwood to St Annes (and even Lytham) modernised coastal tram service was pushed out of Lytham St Annes Council's windows in 1936. Bring the clock forward and Blackpool Transport Services having acquired the former Fylde Borough transport system (buses only of course) in the 1990s - now serve much of the south Fylde coast, as far as Lytham two (miles from Warton with its important employer BAE Systems).
At the same time what was once a busy railway link from Preston to Blackpool with express trains and high frequency services stopping at Lytham, Ansdell & Fairhaven, St Annes and Squires Gate - is now a truncated single track runt providing hourly trains of a third world standard. At least there is a line.
North of Blackpool (and Poulton) the important coastal town of Fleetwood with its growing technology and energy sectors, remains cut off from the national rail network entirely thanks to a Home Counties 'expert'.
The possibility of tram-train operation utilising this south Fylde line with integration into (or is it onto) Blackpool's promenade tram service has been mooted on several occasions in recent years - and by responsible visionaries. A current effort to instil some vigour into this logical transport improvement is now underway with an online petition aimed at Lancashire County Council in Preston.
Whether or not this new and well meaning initiative gets any 'traction' no pun here - we shall see in a new Parliament. Facebook.com/tramstolytham has details of the petition and associated news. Commended to residents of the Fylde coast.
A tram train operation utilising the south fylde railway line (such as it is) which offers a mediocre experience at best for its regular travellers - could well become a shot in the arm for Blackpool's tramway (sorry - light rail service). The potential for branches to the new Enterprise Zones at Warton and on Squires Gate Lane, taking in as well Squires Gate's underutilised airport and the various retail and business parks (without public transport access at present) could be well within reach if the 'Northern Powerhouse' creeps a little bit further into this part of the northwest. Perhaps not in the immediate future - but then planning these things provides work for an awful lot of consultancy firms and their ilk before a sod is turned and a foot of track laid.
Having previously raised the potential of Victoria Hospital becoming a deserved terminus for a light rail service from Blackpool's town centre - and indeed the possibility of Squires Gate Lane providing a centre or side of road reservation from Starr Gate - why not Lytham and St Annes. The petition can be found online at the Facebook page listed above and via that other excellent UK tram website - British Trams Online.