The new decade has started with good news for Fylde's rail transport future. Government departments have signalled approval of funding for detailed examination of integrating the Fylde coast's rail and light rail infrastructure. Linking the Fleetwood Ferry terminus of the tramway to the protected right of way running from Wyre Dock to the junction at Poulton with the mainline railway to Preston (and Blackpool North). Furthermore the extension and strengthening of the railway line from its current dead end single track terminus at Waterloo Road to Kirkham (and Preston).
In tandem news of Government intention to terminate the current franchise ownership of Northern Rail from its existing German and British private sector operating management - is a further reality check on radical changes to the all-important English regional rail setup. Bringing this railway network closer into public control with adjusted priorities favouring community engagement follows on the General Election results which transferred many northern Parliamentary seats into Conservative majorities. Public discontent with the privatised set up brought in by a previous Conservative government being high on the list of corrective measures needing action now in Downing Street.
All this favours Blackpool's efforts to improve its railway services and strategic aims of better connectivity for the entire Fylde coast. Whilst it is unlikely that immediate benefits will accrue - the direction of travel for rail investment and development is now given a green signal. Blackpool Transport's (and Council) intentions to expand on its tramway service is no doubt an immediate beneficiary of these changes. No longer are tramtrain proposals merely a pipe dream. The Karlsruhe tramtrain system model could well emerge in the coming decade with clean energy fast and frequent services to Preston from a joined up coastal line that brings Fleetwood and Lytham within a joined up loop. Our own modest proposals for Wyre Dock and regeneration of the riverfront ABP land - would seem to be bearing fruit at last.
British tramway connectivity at work ! A restored veteran 'Water Car' called on to clean the newly completed light rail upgrade work on the Promenade. Amazing that this 1900's built unit for Cardiff's City Tramways was called upon to finish off the multimillion pound investment of the Blackpool to Fleetwood light rail line - but here is the evidence with the tram taking on water at Starr Gate loop. Images : John Woodman
Hopefully the next integrated tram operation will bring somewhat more up to date technology in the years ahead - with the Starr Gate terminus but an interim stop on the River Wyre and Poulton coastal link.
The decision of York's city council to ban cars from its city centre is harbinger of similar enforced urban strategies to emphasise the necessity of traffic free town centres. Blackpool can't be far behind - perhaps not to the same extreme but along the same green policy lines. Electric buses together with trams are now leading to all electric powered vehicles from taxis and other vehicle needs that mandate electric or hybrid power - with tariffs electronically imposed on non conforming traffic. Transferring tomorrow's illiuminations traffic on to enhanced tram and electric bus tours from park and ride sites is a small step away. A green themed lighting display for the future has to be on the Council agenda - since it is the public purse which bears most of the cost of this late season bonus for hotels, bars, and town centre commerce.
Blue sky thinking is almost upon local government - aided by with fresh minds and an instructive young generation. Welcome to the 2020's.