Galashiels 1 Fleetwood 0
In the week that sees the opening (or should I say reopening) of an important railway line linking towns in the Borders Region of Scotland with Edinburgh; the news that a fifty year old diesel two car train set to operate a mile shuttle between Thornton Station and Burn Naze - is being hailed as a major step forward in railway progress by local media is just slightly over the top.
Famous towns like Galashiels, Melrose and Hawick finally get their railway line back this week in a £260 million capital investment that trashes at least one of the infamous Beeching cuts of the 1960s. Fleetwood was also cut off in the same arbitrary decisionmaking on the future shape of Britain's rail network. Fleetwood is still cut off from the network - and likely to remain so until wiser minds get a grip by forcing the reopening of the dormant railway track running from Poulton Station as far as Burn Naze.
Jameson Road Bridge now bars further rail service towards Fleetwood beyond Burn Naze halt. Rebuilding a minor road bridge should hardly be a barrier to reconnecting Fleetwood to the rest of the Britain's railway network. Obviously trains cannot trundle along the Wyre Estuary to reach their original terminus in Fleetwood, but there are credible options within the realms of investment to bring trains alongside Amounderness Way; or through the soon to be redeveloped Wyre Dock - as far as Fleetwood Freeport and near to Lord Street.
Handing over valuable railway infrastructure to a heritage railway group was a worthwhile initiative years ago, but now seeing a fifty year old museum diesel set being lauded as the answer to Fleetwood's railway link is whimsical band-aid. Not that the railway volunteers have not worked extremely hard in protecting the invaluable infrastructure over several decades. What would be more realistic is utilising this line for frequent tram train operation connecting Fleetwood with Poulton, Kirkham, Preston and of course Blackpool. Tramtrain operations are increasing in Europe where indeed wiser and practical minds prevail on such matters. Studies into the Fylde's potential for tramtrain linkups have already been reported on. Foremost in that framework is the lamentable South Fylde train service running from a bus shelter at Waterloo Road on single track all the way to Kirkham using quite disreputable rolling stock. Syrian refugees travel in better trains en route to Budapest from Serbia than the south Fylde service.
Just how many studies does it take before funding is assigned to actual investment reflecting current market issues, as opposed to waffling on about theoretical projects? The rail consultancy business is a whole industry in its own right with untold millions thrown at reports, studies and conferences. Naturally if three Local Authorities cannot agree on providing Wyre residents with the right to use their NoW cards on Blackpool's trams in Fleetwood - I suppose its expecting too much for tram-trains to reach this part of Britain's shoreline. But one can but hope. Northern Powerhouse anyone ? FyldeRail anyone?