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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

TramTrains For the Fylde ?

John Woodman

There is a very large silver lining resulting from the Government decision to axe the HS2 extension north from Birmingham to Manchester via Crewe. Capital commitment for this link is instead going to be assigned to Northern Network Rail and multiple individual transport infrastructure schemes already formulated and given priority or approval at County level. Among those in the forefront of benefitting from a pool of several billion pounds will be the Poulton to Fleetwood railway link, This long mooted rail renewal has now progressed to a potential tram train format as opposed to heavy rail connection. Whether this will become part of Blackpool Transport's own light rail network, or seperately operated by a third party is uncertain, as is the potential for physical connection between the existing light rail seafront line to Fleetwood.

Several light rail proposals in the Fylde are also in the frame for government funding subject to robust business cases being made at local authority level. Extending Blackpool's light rail service south to St Annes and potentially as far as Warton and its important avionics facility being a further 'warm' prospect to qualify for funding, as well as additional new trams to handle passenger growth. It is to be hoped that any new trams destined for the Fylde are awarded to UK builders as opposed to imports from Europe (or elsewhere). The case for a UK light rail designbuild and test facility which would underpin domestic manufacture must also be on the agenda to avoid the large fleet renewal contracts awarded to assembly plants outwith Britain. France and the US providing the best examples of government led policies giving priority to light rail equipment suppliers based in those markets. Those Manchester, Docklands and WestMidlands contracts benefitting foreign factories need to be frozen in favour of UK suppliers setting up one or more design build plants with British originated models.

Britain needs to restart engagement in the light rail industry through legislation and limiting the involvement of consultancies and lobbyists for foreign suppliers. Blackpool'x electric tramway department also shared its staff with more domestic matters up to 1932.



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