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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Missing In Action

For those diligent readers of this Blog remarking on the absence of postings of late a brief word of advice this week. We have been in the process of relocating our work environment to new premises sited in our back garden ! This has caused not inconsiderable distress to the Author whose once familiar setting has been wholly disrupted and now in need of reorganisation. Combined with this transition has been decisions being taken by the FHLT Trustees on redeploying the Trust's assets and moving away from the long held aspirations for a display at Wyre Dock.

Exploratory exchanges with public and private sector bodies over the past few months are now leading to a more prominent and proactive role for the Trust's trams within Fleetwood. This is linked to town centre regeneration initiatives under the aegis of a new organisation created late last year and the likelihood of Fleetwood finally securing a working rail connection to the national network which uses the dormant railway right of way between the town's port and Poulton.

Wider consideration of the Fylde coast's transport and rail infrastructure is being looked at in detail with emphasis on light rail and heavy rail connectivity as well as the importance of electric powered transport modes replacing diesel. Blackpool Transport and the Council are committed to introducing all electric buses near and medium term and of course extending the current coastal tramway service starting with the street running extension from North Pier to North Station along Talbot Road. The latter project having suffered from delays in securing land for a tram terminus in tandem with other private sector development adjoining the Blackpool North station site. After much uncertainty this essential part of the new extension with trackwork in place - is to finally go ahead with a start on demolition of the Wilko property beginning in late March or April.

The FHLT continue to engage with Associated British Ports, Wyre and Blackpool Councils and of course Blackpool Transport in reaching affirmative options that fit with community objectives and Local Authority planning. Unlike Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Transport for London and Nottingham - Blackpool as a Unitary Authority with far smaller population and seasonal economic flows is limited on its ability to secure infrastructural investment on the scale of other light rail operations in England. Nonetheless the town's historic role in introducing electric tram operation, not to mention electric street lighting - is widely recognised as a milestone in urban development.

Well into a new century, one in which electric powered steel on steel urban transport is again regarded favourably, Blackpool rightly has attained an enviable pedigree for progressive development, even in its constricted coastal position. With a new Government committed to forcefully engaging with regions and communities in the north of the country - and to redress the imbalance of infrastructural investment from London and the Home Counties to towns and cities beyond Birmingham - the omens are positive for improved rail transport connectivity at all levels. As is the desire to see coastal towns regain prosperity and economic well being. Fleetwood with Blackpool, and neighboring communities in the south Fylde all stand to gain from reset priorities coming out of Westminster. At least that is the expectation in the northwest.

Readers of this Blog can be assured of more regular postings in the weeks ahead - with positive news and developments being worked on.

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