New rail link call

Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel
Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel
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A FYLDE councillor has proposed sweeping changes to the borough’s rail line in a bid to boost business.

Coun Howard Henshaw wants changes to be made to the South Fylde line to improve connectivity to BAE Systems, Warton, as part of a £275m transport masterplan proposed by Lancashire County Council.

The scheme, known as the Highways and Transport Master Plan for Central Lancashire, saw Warton included in its plans because of its strategic importance as an enterprise zone for business.

But Mr Henshaw wants the site to be serviced by a railway route, an idea he proposed at County Hall, Preston.

He added: “While the report highlighted the North West electrification of the railway between Blackpool North, Preston, Manchester and Liverpool, I argued that the substantial Government investment in the new enterprise zone at Warton would never achieve its true potential unless they were serviced by direct rail links to the two zones.

“I pointed out that the nearest station to Warton was Moss Side, about two miles away, which was not cost effective because of the small number residents living there.

“The ideal solution would be to construct a five mile loop to take in Warton and Freckleton, before continuing to Blackpool South via Lytham and St Annes.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said no idea is a bad one, but admitted logistics and cost could be an issue for Mr Henshaw’s proposal.

He added: “Although I respect Howard’s idea, the money has to be spent wisely. We would need to be sure it’s the right thing to do.

“To put in the loop, it would involve having to go through housing estates, something I’m not sure residents would be keen on.

“I believe we need to build a spur to increase services – that would help serve the area better.

“To my mind two things need to happen for the South Fylde rail line.

“One, that we increase the number of services available to people, and two, that we improve carriages. This would greatly benefit Fylde.”

In last week’s Express, Tony Ford, chairman of the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership said: “The line is poorly served in terms of timetable and rolling stock – it’s creaking and well beyond its useful life.”

What do you think of Mr Henshaw’s proposals and the current train service? Email