Fylde Council has appointed Stantec to produce a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to assess transport options to improve connectivity and reliability along the route of the South Fylde Rail Line.
This will include a study to review a range of strategic and economic factors before compiling a report on different transport options, which will go to public consultation later this year.
The study is being carried out as a result of the Restoring Your Railway/Beeching Reversal ideas fund, which was announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2020. The fund was established to look at the viability of restoring lost railway lines to communities.
Historically, the South Fylde line was double-tracked enabling trains to pass each other along the line.
During the 1980s the line from Blackpool South Station to Kirkham and Wesham Station was reduced to a single track resulting in a maximum of one train per hour being able to use the line, limiting the potential capacity of the train services and restricting growth.
Santec will produce the SOBC and Network Rail is conducting a capacity study of the line to assess whether it would be viable to operate two trains per hour within the wider timetable and that platform space can be provided at Preston Station, taking into account other potential changes to train services in the future.
A Project Working Group has been established to provide advice and assistance and oversee the progress of this study and the development of the SOBC. The group includes representatives of Mark Menzies MP and Scott Benton MP, Department for Transport, Network Rail, Northern Rail, Community Rail Lancashire, Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “The appointment of Stantec to this project is another big step towards these much needed upgrades and the doubling of services on the South Fylde Line.
This prospective investment will make it easier for those travelling to Fylde for business or to sample our fantastic visitor attractions, with a huge benefit for our local economy, as well as giving residents better connections to larger regional hubs.
It is pleasing to have reached this stage, but we are by no means over the line, and I will continue working closely with Fylde Borough Council, the Project Working Group, and with Government to help this plan become reality.”
Cllr Karen Buckley, who is the leader at Fylde Council said: “We are delighted to have appointed Stantec as consultants to this very important project.
“Improving connectivity and reliability on the South Fylde Rail line is a top priority for Fylde Council, especially after such a difficult time for the borough.
“Improving the railway line would bring a huge range of benefits to Fylde, so we are eager to continue working in partnership with everyone involved to work towards a solution that will suit all parties.
“I look forward to seeing the SOBC and the capacity study in due course.”
Funders for the project are the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway fund, Community Rail Lancashire, Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Fylde Council.
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