Chorley Station is a harbinger of change
Hardly a relevant header for Blackpool's transport blog but the announcement this week that Chorley Station will be closing every weekend and overnight during weekdays after peak hour commutes, is evidence of the electrification programme now underway. The line from Blackpool North to Preston is scheduled for the same infrastructural upgrade in the near future with consequent closure of Blackpool's railway terminus from a date to be announced.
Realignment of the station's platforms to allow for longer trains and modern rolling stock, as well as a more distinctive and improved terminal building will require full closure for an interim period. Substitute coaches will be replacing trains to and from Preston during this important work.
Poulton's railway station will see its track connection to the former Fleetwood line severed, thus ruling out (for the forseeable future) any chance of reopening train service to Thornton and Fleetwood. The plans of the Poulton and Wyre Railway to operate a superannuated two car diesel set on a short stretch of the existing trackage is no substitute for real trains providing a rail link with the north Fylde communities (and industries at the new Hillhouses Enterprise Zone). Meaningful investigation on creating a shuttle link from Fleetwood to Poulton would at least be a start in bringing Fleetwood 'back on line'. Historic rolling stock just doesn't do it.
Hopefully the tram link to Talbot Gateway and the redevelopment of the Wilkinson store property will coincide with the new electrified Blackpool North railway services - at least that seems to be the intent of joined up transport planners locally.
A further step will be to integrate the south Fylde rail service with some sort of tram train operation that could be extended into Squires Gate Lane where another new Enterprize Zone is being created - as well as the forthcoming Blackpool & The Fylde College technology centre which replaces the Blackpool Airport terminal site. Plans for a tramway along Squires Gate Lane were part of wartime measures in the 1940s when the Vickers Armstrong Wellington Bomber assembly plant was erected there. Remnants of that plant still remain and an industrial estate with retail park have since taken up parts of the once massive factory. Tram trains could run into (or onto) Blackpool's existing light rail line and strengthening the role of the line out of season when it is underutilised. Contrary to popular belief Blackpool Airport continues to function but with downsized terminal apron and passenger services.
The times they are a'changing.