Not only is a new chapter being written in Britain's engagement with rail travel with reversal of Beeching era closures - but also the elimination of carbon fuel motive power. Scotland is taking the lead by announcing intention to decarbonise its entire network by 2035 - just fifteen years hence. Introduction of battery and hydrogen powered trains is being planned on a phased basis alongside electrification of further mainline corridors including the east coast line to Aberdeen and central Scotland line to Inverness. Aberdeen's City Region Hydrogen Strategy which incorporates replacing diesel buses with new hydrogen fuelled vehicles in tandem with railway electrification is seen as a trend setter for other UK urban areas; of which Blackpool with the Fylde coast is high on the list of areas with potential for a similar holistic transport strategy. BTS is already working up its own bus fleet renewal plans which will see hydrogen fuel buses (or all electric vehicles) takeover services on a phased basis during this decade.
Those early years when electric powered trams were the marvel of the Victorian Age. John Woodman Archive.
How one tram loving city highlights its transport heritage. Den Haag and its open air tram museum utilising an old depot repurposed for working displays opened in 1989. John Woodman Image
On the same theme Germany has approved a nine billion euro budget to support hydrogen fuel applications and vehicle design and development technology for road and rail application; whilst UK train supplier Eversholt Rail with Alstom are jointly investing in development of hydrogen powered units for the UK market. Testing of hydrogen fuel trains on select lines in both The Netherlands and Germany is already taking place - these favour light loading branch and feeder rail services. Similar initiatives are actively being planned in Italy and Austria involving participation of national rail operators in those countries.
For the dedicated activists and supporters of reopening the rail link to Fleetwood and upgrading the south fylde single track shuttle from Kirkham to Blackpool - there is assuring news of the German government's decision to approve a massive injection of funding to reopen many of the closed rail links in that country (mostly in the former West Germany) and at the same time modifying freight only branch and connecting lines to passenger service operation. G
The onus in the Fylde coast realising its fullest potential for rail connectivity which engages electric powered technologies at most economic capital cost now lies with bodies created to strengthen the north of england's transport infrastructure and delivery of exceptional services. In this context Blackpool's public owned transport operator is uniquely positioned to fill a leading role. The history and longevity of trams in this part of England provides a remarkable foundation on which a further transforming century of electric rail stands ready to be recognised and built on - given visionary leadership 'up north' in a revitalised County structure (see previous Blog) now on the cards. Recognition of the first century (and more) of electric trams and their role is deserving of a heritage centre permanently available to future generations - with electric power as the catalyst for change from the time of Edison and Westinghouse (and Mr Tesla) right up to the era we are now living through. Somewhere on the Fylde coast sounds just about right.