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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Fast Changing Times for Electric Vehicles

Blackpool's strategy to replace its existing bus fleet with all electric models with the potential for expansion of its light rail / tram network in the coming decade has just been reinforced by the announcement by the newest UK 'unicorn' startup company - Arrival. (no not Arriva).

The startup firm has already attracted Millions of Pounds of investment being announced by both Kia and Hyundai and a new factory to be built at Junction 9 of the M40 at Bicester. This will produce next generation electric vehicles (Generation 2) with a startup order from UPS for 10,000 vans. The plant is scheduled to open in 2021 as the principal UK operation to be followed by 'micro-factories' serving regional markets including Los Angeles and New York.

Ironically when I moved from New York to England during the 1990s after twenty plus years working in the US - we located to the village of Chesterton just outside Bicester and less than a mile from Junction 9. At that time a US developer, Value Retail was in the process of acquiring a large field outside Bicester to develop 'Bicester Village' which since became the most successful retail park in England, complete now with direct rail service from London Marylebone to renamed 'Bicester Village' Station.

Hundreds of new jobs will soon become available adding to the already substantial economic growth in the Bicester area of Oxfordshire - which already has BMW assembling its successful 'Mini' in nearby Oxford.

Other large (and small) road vehicle fleet operators are lining up to order the range of all electric vans and cars to be produced by 'Arrival'. These extend to buses - with images of the prototypes on the company's website ''. Blackpool Transport's forward thinking team anticipate phased replacement of the almost new bus fleet - with electric powered buses; and news from Bicester this week can only accelerate (no pun) these plans endorsed by Blackpool Council, owner of the transport company.

Tramtrain operation with an emergent Fylde network running to Preston environs cannot be far behind given the encouraging support from diverse public bodies expectant for vastly improved connectivity of communities beyond road links. Parallel news that Bolton's Council are pressing for extension of Metrolink light rail service to the town; and the likelihood of this being factored into further expansion of the network in and around Manchester is a lesson for Fylde Authorities to give attention to.

The enormity of electric power application to road and rail transportation modes, in tandem with advanced information technology is already at hand - with massive economic benefits that come with environmental advantages in slowing climate change overall.

2020 : All electric public transport in Blackpool. A trialling of an electric bus prototype has already taken place earlier this year with the test vehicle being passed by one of the town's light rail fleet (built in Germany). Image : John Woodman

The Future of Bus Development : Announced to the World on Blackpool Promenade.

And the future for the Fylde's rail connectivity with light rail, tram train services and heavy rail to Blackpool North.

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