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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Getting Back on Track

Fleetwood Town Council, along with other thoughtful organisations, are giving priority to securing a rail connection with the national network. The parlous condition of the road links to Fleetwood from the M6 and M55 are causing what seems to be incurable problems for commuters and businesses needing to travel out of the north Fylde coastal enclave. While the south Fylde communities have at least the residue of a railway line still providing passenger services and relatively good road access following the coastline as well as a direct route from Preston - the north Fylde is bereft of any

fit for purpose transport link suited to the 21st Century.

This detrimental state of affairs is nothing new. The road traffic problems have been building up over the past several decades and are now exacerbated by continuing housing developments seemingly out of control in the Fylde. While green fields give way to the profit driven machinations of charmless property companies - the existing road infrastructure and essential services such as schools, doctors, social centres and of course adequate transport links are given short thrift by planners and public bodies.

The absence of a regular passenger rail service into Fleetwood has become something of a cause celebre in recent years. The continuing railbed and right of way that runs all the way in a protected route from Poulton station as far as the Jamieson Road Bridge just past Burn Naze with its moribund station platform - remains very much in place crying out for the same level of government attention and investment as the A585 with overflowing traffic worsening daily adding expense, stress and tribulation to all users.

Fleetwood's local Council have at least raised their voice to clamour for Network Rail and other relevant bodies - Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership being just three, to pull together on this overwhelmingly obvious cause. What is being called for is a railway line with scheduled passenger services able to at least provide a non-road travel alternative in and out of Fleetwood. This is not going to happen through the well-meaning but amateur efforts of preservationist adherents. The way it is going to happen is through serious political muscle and private sector finance with a hard nosed business model that addresses the needs not just of north Fylde residents. Of equal importance are growth of companies and businesses seeing eminent value in expanding and employing people in the new Enterprise Zone at Hillhouses. Whilst new housing developments are appearing like a rash across the landscape from St Annes to Thornton and Poulton - (and Garstang) - the attendant need for new jobs and services seem to be falling further and further behind.

Getting Back on Track was the call sign for Manchester a decade back - and now the Manchester conurbation has the largest light rail network in the UK as a result of joined up planning and determined political leadership. Greater Manchester has it all - with the great city of Liverpool being equally driven forward (although still lacking trams). The Fylde is in a parlous condition at many levels having maintained political complacency for far too long with a mosaic of mismatched local government turfdoms. Transport infrastructure being just one of several growing issues needing blue skies approach and joined up coordination. Fleetwood's voice needs to be heard starting with a railway line that awaits its trains (or tramtrains). Back on Track is the message - in Fleetwood and its high time this was delivered. Manchester went about things more forcefully and the results keep coming (even if Metrolink trams are all built in Germany). Topical signage below - no modesty here.

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