Northern Powerhouse - Fylde loses out (again)
After all the pre-election promises of capital investment in the railways with electrification of a number of key routes including trans-pennine services - the bloom seems to have gone off the rose. Electrification between Manchester and important Yorkshire and north eastern hubs has been deferred while plans for
the Blackpool line from Preston have similarly been kicked into very long grass
according to informed sources.
Whilst Lancashire's elected body sitting a stone's throw away from Preston's
depressing Victorian/Edwardian? railway station opts to turn away the potential of hundreds of millions of pounds of capital investment in this region by the energy
sector (much like if Scotland decided they would ban oil exploration in the North Sea) - the deferment of improved infrastructural railway links to Blackpool (and other Fylde communities) has been apparently accepted without a murmur.
Manchester continues to coin in central Government largesse: its latest tourism/leisure boondoggle jazzed up in trendy political speak - was announced
last week. The Fylde coast, dominated by low wage seasonal economy and a spate of house building where new employment opportunities are few and far between - is left to soldier on more or less in much the same way as before. Plenty of houses (sorry I meant 'homes') being computer mapped on any and every available field. Less apparent is infrastructural improvement in new roads, schools, social services and hospitals to handle the increase in population. While of course the Fylde continues with its decidedly antiquated railway, omitting a key urban centre where existing trackbed remains in place fifty odd years after infamous Beeching cuts. I refer of course to Fleetwood. Fortunately there is one Fleetwood which benefits from fast, frequent electrified trains linking it to neighboring centres - the town of Fleetwood is on the Harlem Line of Metro-North Railroad running services from Grand Central Station New York to northern suburbs of Westchester and Putnam Counties. As a former commuter on that line I knew it well. Passing Fleetwood station to and from Manhattan always brought a twinge of nostalgia during those daily commutes. But to the present :
Fragmented local government fighting their own corners with less and less money and truncated staffing - are left to squabble over the crumbs from the table (or so it seems). The brave new world (in the north) heralded by the Chancellor just a short time ago - now seems only a pre-election mirage in this part of the country.