Cash boost for tram link dream

Library pictures.'Blackpool  trams.
Library pictures.'Blackpool trams.
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Extra funding has been secured to investigate extending Blackpool’s tram system towards south Fylde.

The £160,000 project, jointly funded by Lancashire County Council and Sintropher, a European Union project to improve local and regional transport in Europe, could lead to the tram system being extended towards Squires Gate train station and allow for a link to St Annes.

Andrew Loynd, principal parking and energy officer at Fylde Council, said: “Once the most recent study is completed in a year’s time the various authorities and agencies will be in a better position to assess whether an extension of the tram network to St Annes will be viable.

“Then will come the hard work of trying to obtain the funding so that such a scheme can come to fruition.

“A multi-million pound investment project such as this will take some time to come to be developed but we are hopeful that in the not-too-distant future St Annes will be once again linked to the tram network.”

The latest project follows the completion of the £100m scheme to upgrade Blackpool’s tramway last year. Further funding of £18.2m was secured in April to extend the system from North Pier to Blackpool North railway 
station.

If the new study is found to be viable, trams could return to south Fylde for the first time in around 80 years after the closure of the Lytham St Annes Corporation Tramways company in 1937.

Coun Tony Ford, chairman of the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership, hailed the plans.

He added: “I would welcome any investment in the line that delivers a better service and better connections particularly for St Annes residents.

“We need better public transport links and schemes to reduce car usage on congested roads especially at peak times.

“The south Fylde line has considerable potential when you realise how many people live along its length.”

Chris Anslow, Lancashire County Council public transport development manager, said the study was part of a special project looking at improving economic growth and job access in the borough.

He added: “We’re carrying out a study into how rail links along the south Fylde coast could best be developed to improve the quality of
services and encourage economic growth, particularly by improving people’s access to job opportunities.

“Lancashire County Council and the European Sintropher project have each funded half the cost of the £160,000 study which is looking into a number of options including extending the tramway and improving links between trams and trains.”

The results of the study will be released in June.