Fylde Lines

L+Y

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I've seen it discussed in the Restoring Your Railway fund thread that there's not currently the capacity to deliver both an additional hourly service between Preston and Blackpool South through a dynamic loop on the Fylde line, and a hypothetical hourly Preston-Fleetwood working. It would have to be one or another.

Is this something that could be dealt with through capacity upgrades at Preston: presumably by bringing the ex-RES platform back into use?

And if not, what creative route-linking could be considered to square the circle of both an hourly Fleetwood working, and a half hourly Blackpool South one? 2tph Ormskirk-Blackpool South? The York working diverted along the Fylde line? Some other alternative?
 
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Bletchleyite

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Trams to Kirkham and send the current Blackpool S service to Fleetwood instead seems the obvious one to me, though I do question the benefit of this Fleetwood service when they have frequent trams which will run to North for faster rail connections.

2tph Ormskirks is not possible unless you either double tracked or added another loop. The effect of that would be interesting, though, it would potentially become the primary Preston-Liverpool service once again. Though using that "triangle" you could I suppose do an hourly Blackpool South to Ormskirk and an hourly Blackpool South to Colne, though that'd depend if those could be pathed to be half an hour apart, as both run on the WCML so adjusting them may not be trivial (they already are half an hour apart, or rather 29/31 minutes).

The other other option is to build Fleetwood wired from day one (which they should anyway, it's such a short branch) and portion-work one of the 6-car Blackpool-Airport services. An easy Fleetwood-Manchester commute might actually have a very strong regenerative effect - Fleetwood is decidedly poor and scruffy and really could do with a leg up, it feels forgotten.
 
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Bertie the bus

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If you had a Preston - Fleetwood and a second train per hour from Preston - Blackpool South that would be up to 8 trains per hour between Preston and the Blackpool area. That would be sheer lunacy. You might get reasonable loadings per train on a scorching July Saturday but on a cold Tuesday in November?

I thought with the post-Covid reductions in frequencies on various lines we were about to see some sanity on the railway.
 

Bletchleyite

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I’d wager fleetwood won’t be heavy rail.

What would make sense? Unlike the South Fylde line I can't see it making sense to send the trams down that way. Fleetwood, unlike the south Fylde, already has trams into Blackpool, what this proposal will get it is trains to Preston and beyond.
 

Chester1

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I’d wager fleetwood won’t be heavy rail.

What would make sense? Unlike the South Fylde line I can't see it making sense to send the trams down that way. Fleetwood, unlike the south Fylde, already has trams into Blackpool, what this proposal will get it is trains to Preston and beyond.

Both being trams would certainly simplify rail services in Fylde. Remove "North" from station name and divert the Blackpool South service to there. People could interchange at Poulton and Kirkham. Fleetwood to Preston would likely be faster with a change at Poulton than via Blackpool North even once the current extension finally opens.
 

30907

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Fleetwood to Poulton as tram makes very good sense, because
(1) there is no realistic heavy rail route in Fleetwood, whereas connecting to the tram at Heathfield Rd (or Lindel Road) would be relatively easy (Amounderness Way would need bridging) - you could even put in a triangular junction.
(2) a tram terminus at Poulton should be feasible, parallel to the up platform (or if need be the other side of the bridge), whereas a junction with the main line would be awkward.

I don't know about Lytham - for local traffic, a tram extension (perhaps as far as Saltcotes?), but there's then an empty stretch to Kirkham.
Do you go for a 12/15 minute interval tram (overkill) - or do you leave Lytham (St Annes is too far) at the end of a heavy rail branch with a half hourly service from Preston (better for long distance connections)?
 

Bletchleyite

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Fleetwood to Poulton as tram makes very good sense, because
(1) there is no realistic heavy rail route in Fleetwood, whereas connecting to the tram at Heathfield Rd (or Lindel Road) would be relatively easy (Amounderness Way would need bridging) - you could even put in a triangular junction.
(2) a tram terminus at Poulton should be feasible, parallel to the up platform (or if need be the other side of the bridge), whereas a junction with the main line would be awkward.

I think it makes the whole idea an utter waste of money. If connectional is OK, then change at North. The benefit of reinstatement is through journeys to Preston and beyond.

I suppose it could be justified on the basis of connecting Thornton to any sort of rail, but then so would a fully-integrated high quality bus service (yep, oink oink flap flap).

A junction to the mainline at Poulton isn't "difficult" - it already exists but for actually connecting it back up! Look at Google Maps aerial view.
 

Chester1

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Fleetwood to Poulton as tram makes very good sense, because
(1) there is no realistic heavy rail route in Fleetwood, whereas connecting to the tram at Heathfield Rd (or Lindel Road) would be relatively easy (Amounderness Way would need bridging) - you could even put in a triangular junction.
(2) a tram terminus at Poulton should be feasible, parallel to the up platform (or if need be the other side of the bridge), whereas a junction with the main line would be awkward.

I don't know about Lytham - for local traffic, a tram extension (perhaps as far as Saltcotes?), but there's then an empty stretch to Kirkham.
Do you go for a 12/15 minute interval tram (overkill) - or do you leave Lytham (St Annes is too far) at the end of a heavy rail branch with a half hourly service from Preston (better for long distance connections)?

The South Wales Metro will be a good test of suitability of trams for long distance journeys. Trams from Kirkham to Blackpool via Lytham could work with a bespoke interior for longer journeys. The biggest problems with conversion would be cost of wiring a rural route and losing the direct service to Preston. Saltcoates to Kirkham is viable with battery power.

I think it makes the whole idea an utter waste of money. If connectional is OK, then change at North. The benefit of reinstatement is through journeys to Preston and beyond.

I suppose it could be justified on the basis of connecting Thornton to any sort of rail, but then so would a fully-integrated high quality bus service (yep, oink oink flap flap).

Fleetwood to Poulton would be quicker than Fleetwood to Blackpool North and the train segment of journey would be shorter than today. Heavy rail would be faster still but the other factors of line frequency and cost come into play. If the Blackpool South service was diverted then Poulton and Kirkham could both have a 5tph heavy rail service providing good interchange options for Preston and beyond.

I wonder if the planned North West Lancashire Unitiary Authority will change the politics because any extension would still be within the boundaries of the same council.
 

Bletchleyite

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Fleetwood to Poulton would be quicker than Fleetwood to Blackpool North and the train segment of journey would be shorter than today. Heavy rail would be faster still but the other factors of line frequency and cost come into play.

It would, but the significant cost would not be justified for the small time saving. (Before anyone says HS2, remember the primary purpose of that is line capacity, not saving a small amount of time on trains to Birmingham and Manchester).

TBH I think this scheme is a spectacular waste of money generally and I'm astonished it's being elevated above schemes for places that don't have any rail transport at all (OK, Thornton, but I think that's pushing justification on its own), but I can only see it as even vaguely justified as a through service.
 

Bald Rick

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A junction to the mainline at Poulton isn't "difficult" - it already exists but for actually connecting it back up! Look at Google Maps aerial view.

It’s definitely possible, but AIUI come with the price of a speed restriction on the main line.

The answer for Fleetwood is an express bus to Poulton, free to anyone buying a rail ticket to / from Poulton. I‘m willing to bet that the feasibility work done to date did not consider that.
 

Bletchleyite

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The answer for Fleetwood is an express bus to Poulton, free to anyone buying a rail ticket to / from Poulton. I‘m willing to bet that the feasibility work done to date did not consider that.

Agreed. Unfortunately, in the UK, proper rail-bus integration is pretty much never considered.

It might well (as an aside) be a good option for Skelmersdale too - express bus down the M58 to Maghull North having done a loop of the town first. It'd easily average 50+mph once out of the town and probably give a faster end to end from most houses, plus you'd get a local bus service to the Concourse "for free".
 

Bald Rick

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Agreed. Unfortunately, in the UK, proper rail-bus integration is pretty much never considered.

It might well (as an aside) be a good option for Skelmersdale too - express bus down the M58 to Maghull North having done a loop of the town first. It'd easily average 50+mph once out of the town and probably give a faster end to end from most houses, plus you'd get a local bus service to the Concourse "for free".

yep.
 

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For the South line, in a crayonist world extending the current tramway beyond Starr Gate to take over the line after Squires Gate to run as far as Lytham would do wonders for the settlements along that area. Maybe 6 trams per hour to Lytham with 2 trams an hour extending to Kirkham station (has the advantage of having a separate alignment).

As for the old line towards Fleetwood, that shouts out as being another tramway, can join the existing tram network in Fleetwood, can go away from the old alignment in the Poulton area to run on the streets

Either that or throw the wires up on the branch line, something which could be done with a block over the winter months.
 

30907

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It would, but the significant cost would not be justified for the small time saving.
At tram speeds, I estimate 20min including 5min for the North-Poulton leg, and allowing for the longer sections of >30mph running compared to the coastal route.
 

Bald Rick

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This is a knotty problem.

As a frequent user of the lines in the Fylde, I would certainly prefer more on the south branch. But there are two issues:

1) almost all the existing passengers on the south branch are going to/from Preston and beyond. Mostly from Lytham / St Annes, and in season tourists to Blackpool South and the ‘Pleasure‘ ‘Beach‘ (as it is the only way to reach these by rail from Preston and beyond).

2) There is quite a large market for public transport from Lytham and St Annes to Blackpool, but this is almost entirely accommodated for by buses, which are free for a majority of the market (pensioners, who live there in abundance), and head right into Blackpool centre for the shops and other attractions. There is also a reasonable market on the train St Annes to Lytham.

Therefore what seems to be the obvious solution of converting the South branch to an extension of the tram from Starr / Squires Gate - Kirkham will force almost all existing users to change, which will lower the utility.

Alternatively doubling the frequency of the line through a loop in the St Annes / Andsell area does little for attracting the bus users, or indeed car users (Of which there are also many).


The answer, in my mind, is to overlap both:

Extend the tram to Lytham, and run 3 trams an hour there.

Truncate the South branch at St Annes. With electric trains, works to Moss Side level crossing, and closing the station there (average of 5 return passengers a day use it) a half hourly service would be possible on the single line. Passengers to the Pleasure Beach and Blackpool South would have to change, but with the advent of the tram connection at North station most will find it quicker door to door to go via that route anyway. This would keep the majority of existing flows happy, provide double the service from Lytham / St Annes to Preston at minimal additional operating cost, treble the service from Lythsm / St Annes to Blackpool (and to parts of Blackpool that are useful), and be relatively cheap in infrastructure terms, probably less than £100m.

lots more benefit than Fleetwood, for a lot less cash.
 

Bletchleyite

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With regard to Moss Side station:


In 1961 Moss Side was closed along with Wrea Green station in the neighbouring (larger) village. It was an easy task to reopen the station as (unlike at Wrea Green) the platforms had never been removed after closure. Moss Side station therefore, was reopened in 1983, with the aid of a grant from Lancashire County Council.[3]

Wow. The station is clearly useless, it isn't even near any nice footpaths for hiking or similar (probably on a par with Bescar Lane, but less useful than New Lane which is at least near Martin Mere, or even Dent). I wonder was housing development planned? For the pittance extra it would have cost, Wrea Green would have made more sense, and if the tram did go to Kirkham then I would say it would be a decent opportunity to close Moss Side and open Wrea Green together with some housing development to get the project a bit of planning gain.

Similarly a station to the east of Lytham would be useful, plus separate Fairhaven and St Annes North. The stations are quite spread out at present so even truncated to South the line doesn't fulfil what it could. It isn't the sort of line you drive to, if you aren't within walking distance of a station you simply aren't going to use it at all - if getting in the car you'll drive to Kirkham, Poulton or all the way to Preston.
 

30907

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Extend the tram to Lytham, and run 3 trams an hour there.

Truncate the South branch at St Annes. With electric trains, works to Moss Side level crossing, and closing the station there (average of 5 return passengers a day use it) a half hourly service would be possible on the single line.
If there is a way to go half hourly to St Annes, that's excellent - I hadn't thought it possible.

If there is a specific flow from Moss Side it could perhaps be catered for with 1tpd - or even 1tp2h?

open Wrea Green together with some housing development to get the project a bit of planning gain.
Wrea Green is almost becoming a suburb of Kirkham with development entirely south of the railway.
It would be problematic as a heavy rail stop as above but workabke as a tram stop - but as Bald Rick has said, tram isn't the ideal solution.
 
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Bletchleyite

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If there is a specific flow from Moss Side it could perhaps be catered for with 1tpd - or even 1tp2h?

I doubt there's any flow. There's a small row of houses (all of whom likely own cars) and a static caravan park. Wouldn't surprise me if many of the users were to/from there on Saturdays and Sundays?

It would be problematic as a heavy rail stop as above but workabke as a tram stop - but as Bald Rick has said, tram isn't the ideal solution.

I actually do think tram would be a better solution for the South line. It would introduce a change going to Preston, but if you had all mainline services stop at Kirkham the connections would be good, and it would allow a wider catchment by adding about 3 more stations, as this is always going to be a line you walk to, thus each station having a catchment of not really any more than about a 500m radius at best. It would also be financially better as it would allow complete withdrawal of the existing train service, freeing up a unit and crew. A tram crew is much cheaper, even given that Blackpool trams aren't DOO. It would also provide better connections to central Blackpool itself from the places it serves rather than about 3 miles short of it.

It might well be that most of the Pleasure Beach traffic would move to going via North and the tram from there, but does that really matter? I think there's a very good chance it will do anyway. The South line is only hourly, whereas there will be 4 connections per hour via North.
 

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