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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Connecting Lines

Fleetwood's aspirations to reconnect the town and community to the national rail network can take encouragement from the announcement this week from Colne and Skipton. Blackpool and the Fylde coast have a rail service that runs into east Lancashire and terminates in a dead end at Colne. Once upon a time (in the 1970s) the railway line continued east to Skipton and thence to West Yorkshire's major city - Leeds.

The Department of Transport along with Transport for the North have jointly agreed to fund a feasibility study to reopen or otherwise extend the railway from Colne to another important community in the Pennine district - Skipton. This would allow a new east west rail link between Lancashire and Yorkshire aiding renewal and growth.

Interestingly another east west rail link which is the subject of active study is the former line that connected Oxford with Cambridge and towns along the way such as Bicester and Bedford. Much of that right of way remains and new investment at Bicester in recent years now allows passenger services direct from Oxford to Marylebone Staion via Bicester. Whereas previously Oxford's sole rail link with the capital ran via Reading into Paddington on intensively used lines. I have previously referenced this excellent example of strategic rail development aided and abetted by the incredible success of the retail outlet at Bicester Village attracting large numbers of visitors from the capital.

The Fleetwood to Poulton link similarly will draw users attracted to the north Fylde coast and the new dockside development 'Fleetwood Quays', as well as expanding businesses locating on the Enterprise Zone at Hillhouses next to Fleetwood. Any additional transport link above and beyond the caterpillar like traffic flow along the A585 has to gain serious attention from politicians and planners. The lost Colne to Skipton rail link is a further example of how and why the rail line closures of the 1960s have ill-served communities ever since.

Now that politicians (well at least some) have woken up and smelt the coffee, the case for reactivating that short but critical rail connection serving Thornton and Fleetwood from Poulton is glaringly obvious in 2018. If the Colne and Skipton 12 mile link can secure serious attention - then Fleetwood to Poulton can't lag behind...

PS : the view of Blackpool North work today

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