Blow for Blackpool North Station extension?

Earlier this year there was much celebration at the news that Transport for Lancashire were going to release more than £16 million towards extending the Blackpool Tramway to North Station, but it could now turn out that this celebration was premature as the leader of Blackpool Council has thrown doubt over the scheme questioning whether they can afford their £2 million contribution.

Cllr Simon Blackburn has warned that there may be a stark choice for the Council – fund the tramway extension or put the £2 million towards a museum in the town’s Winter Gardens. At the same time he also questioned whether the disruption the extension would bring to Talbot Road – which has only recently been dug up – is worth it and where the traffic displaced by the trams would go.

These incredible statements were made by Cllr Blackburn at a recent Council meeting. At the meeting he said: “It all depends on whether or not we can find the £2m that we will have to put into the bid monies in order to make this happen. And if you think that were we to be successful with the Heritage Leisure Fund bid for the museum, we would be looking at a contribution of £2m over the period of the museum being developed. If we find £2m, and I’m not sure we have it, would we spend it on the tramway or the museum, are we likely to be able to spend it on both? Probably not. The second consideration is do we want to go through the palaver of digging up Talbot Road again? Do we want to shift all the traffic that would need to be shifted as we wouldn’t be able to have trams and cars on the same road?”

A report is due to go before the Council’s executive in February after which a final decision will be made. But the fact that the leader of the Council now seems to be against the plan will surely be damaging to the prospects of the extra £2 million being found, it could well be a case of so near but yet so far?

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28 Responses to Blow for Blackpool North Station extension?

  1. Clifford Stead says:

    I would say that the choice of a new tramway over a museum is a “No Brainer” ! with a council leader like this Blackpool doesn`t need enemies!!!!
    The new route will regenerate a town centre which is pretty much dead on its feet.

  2. Ken Walker says:

    “We wouldn’t be able to have cars and trams on the same road”. So Fleetwood town centre doesn’t exist then? And as for not wanting the palaver of digging up Talbot Road, it didn’t bother him when they dug it up for the council’s purposes not so long ago. And if he can’t make a choice between a museum and a much-needed transport link (especially as the pointwork at North pier is already in place) then he’s not really council leader material. Excuses excuses excuses.

  3. David Holt says:

    I’ve just been along Talbot Road with Google Street View, and I really can’t see why “we wouldn’t be able to have trams and cars on the same road”. I thought that’s what trams did. Like they do in Fleetwood.

  4. Phill John says:

    I’m am not from Blackpool area but I use railways and trams a lot to get around UK and Europe.

    I would not go to Blackpool to look at a museum .

    A tram link from the railway station would enable me to venture into most parts of Blackpool and Fleetwood along the shoreline on a day trip whereas now I would think twice before making the journey where I arrive by rail.

  5. Michael Widger says:

    Cllr Blackburn has form on this, unfortunately, describing the extension as ‘boring’ when it was announced in January. He won’t be troubled by elections until 2015, so will push through the museum project. It is very depressing reading this story in the ‘Blackpool Gazette’ and all the small-minded comments ‘below the line’!

  6. Nigel Pennick says:

    This seems like it used to be years ago, where every project was dropped just before it went ‘live’. Blackpool will get a reputation of not looking to the future if the new line fails to materialize.

  7. Jono says:

    The extension is a total waste of money for the sake of a couple of minutes from North Pier! Running the line 1 into north station is the more economical option!

  8. proutledge says:

    Most modern tramways have some street running – even in Croydon. European cities manage street running effectively. The vitality and vibrancy of the town are at risk if public transport is not developed. Let Blackpool show the way ahead by getting on with the project. I wonder whether the tramway extension could be achieved at a lower cost anyway.
    British tramway development seems to be much more expensive than some European developments.

    • Ken Walker says:

      The money that other countries spend on just getting jobs done we seem to spend on having enquiry after enquiry to find reasons NOT to do things. The same is true with the Tram/Train idea – works fine in other countries but how many years have we in this country spent talking about trying it to see if it works, with nothing to show for it so far? Talk about re-inventing the wheel!

      • Tony Hampson says:

        It all boils down to Utility Diversions. On the continent, it is the responsibilty of the utility co. to move their own pipes! Here, we do it for them…and pay for it!!

  9. Franklyn says:

    What is the point of an LRV exrtension to the current system? I used to visit Blackpool regularly, partly to see the historic tramway in operation. That doesn’t exist any more. OK, they may have retaibed a few of the old trams and brian is doing his best with what resources he has.

    However the LRV system is a complete failure. High fares, late running, low frequencies and no specials during the busy periods. Just like the Sheffield, Nottingham and other systems, passengers are treated to a “take it or leave it” attitude and forced to stand on cramped vehicles with far too few seats. Cattle going for slaughter are treated to better travelling conditions than the people of Blackpool now have to endure on the modernised system.

    Blackpool has been consistently vandalised by the idiots in control over recent years. First came the stupid idea of laying a lawn on the promenade (which nobody ever bothers to cut, forcing pedestrians to walk in the tram tracks) and then the pointless LRV conversion. Now there are people who seriously want to spend more money on overly expensive plastic trams on a route which is an easy walk from the promenade.

    I definitely do not want to see LRVs at North Station. A proper museum for the town would be a great resource for the community and also an added attraction in a town which is rapidly loosing it’s heritage appeal.

    • Michael Widger says:

      ‘LRV system is a complete failure’ – I think not – passenger journeys have doubled since the last full year of the traditional service. The current set up is an excellent compromise, retaining the best of the heritage fleet,and more arriving daily(!), but securing the long-term future with new ‘Flexity2’ vehicles. The glory days of Blackpool as a resort are sadly long gone, and it has to adapt if the decline is not to be terminal.The tramway could not have survived as a ‘theme park’ alone, (ridership fell from 6 million journeys in 1990/91, to 2 million in 2009/10). LRV has a vital role to play in regeneration, but the network must be suited to residents and businesses, as well as visitors. Connectivity to North station is a good first start, followed by conversion to LRV of the heavy-rail route to St Anne’s and Lytham!

    • Tony Hampson says:

      The words of a man who hasn’t been to Blackpool for many many years!!

  10. Fylde man says:

    Let’s have a Tram system to North Station,like it was in the old days,when Trams did go there,and also in the future the Tram service could be extended further inland.
    As for a Museum Im sorry but I wouldn’t like to see a Museum in Blackpool,there has been one tried and the other one has failed twice,and also I do not want to see static Tram in a Museum,running on the prom in the summer like they have this year on special days.
    As for the plastic Tram as somebody said,they are not plastic and are far better than the old one’s,you don’t have to climb up two steps and be shaken about,and freeze,and also the new one’s carry far more people than the old one’s,as I have seen and ridden on them,they are a lot lot better.

  11. Clifford Stead says:

    The new trams have transformed the tramway in Blackpool and turned it into a showpiece, the old tramway could not continue much longer. The extension to North Station does make a lot of sense.

  12. Tommy Carr says:

    “The second consideration is do we want to go through the palaver of digging up Talbot Road again”

    Really? I fail to see this as useful excuse. The north station plans announced a few months ago was after the road had been finished. There was no problem then.

    So blackpool council can’t get £2 million for a transport link, but can afford to put those,…., those,….. Dart things on the prom? They can afford to close of part of the promenade road/ track for a concert?

  13. Nigel Pennick says:

    How useful it would be when the railway is electrified (yes, they will do that one) to be able to catch a tram direct to Fleetwood and all stations to it. Integrated transport is not just about disconnected single lines in odd places but an connected system directly linked with other parts of the country, so not having the Blackpool tramway directly connected with the national rail system would be rather counter-productive. Metrolink started as a connection between Manchester main rail stations. In Birmingham they are linking the Midland Metro with New Street station now, and Nottingham station (also to be electrified) is soon to be the central point of the extended tram system.

  14. Ian Robinson says:

    How much do Blackpool Council get from Speeding Cameras and parking fines?

  15. Paul says:

    When you are offered a £18m tramway for a mere £2m contribution it seems rather silly to not grab it, but as a Stand-alone single destination branch, a line to ‘North Station’ is at best marginal financially.

    I’m unconviced that railway passengers alone will generate sufficient extra passengers to justify the inconvenience on the mainline promenade service of diverting (probably) every other tram to North Station – It has to also serve the rest of the town centre and the new Talbot Gateway development.

    It needs to be looked at not as a ‘short branch’, but as stage one of an extended network eventually creating either an inland route or a town loop rejoining the promanade line either at Gynn Square or somewhere north of Bispham.

  16. David Holt says:

    Tram Train to Poulton or Preston one day perhaps?

  17. John Gilbert says:

    Ken Walker has hit the nail on the head. This “doubt” displays all the typical British lack of drive, imagination, ambition – and sheer short-sightedness. In Europe there would be no problem – they would just get on with it! And the museum can still be built later on. The tramway link to the principal railway station is needed NOW. Come on Blackpool, get your fingers out, Councillors. How pathetic and blinkered you are!

  18. John Gilbert says:

    Further to my contribution on Monday I would just add this: That there are doubts as to whether the museum should come before the tramline to North Station, despite the fact that £16m has been made available for it and “only” £2m is required from Blackpool’s Council simply illustrates the well known Oscar Wilde aphorism: “They know the price of everything and the value of nothing!” Blackpool has to find just ONE EIGHTH of the total cost which will the town a tramline which directly links with their main-line station – a station moreover which will soon be fully electrified! Could the museum be some councillor(s) pet project perhaps? If so, then please think big sir(s) or madam/mesdames; build the tramline first and the n tackle the museum. Museums, after all, deal with the past; the tramline will deal with the future.

  19. MICHAEL F HUBER says:

    Probably it comes down the fact that the boring business of procedures, endless meetings and convoluted administration often attracts as councillors precisely the type of person who entirely lacks imagination. The “no-can-do” attitude over the tram extension is sadly not at all confined to Blackpool, but typical of much that goes on in local politics. I hope that those councillors and others who are able to think coherently about the future are in the end able to prevail over the small-minded, for the sake of the town.

  20. John Gilbert says:

    I agree with you entirely Mr Huber. We must wait and pray….almost literally I think….that common sense and vision will prevail.

  21. John Gilbert says:

    Me again. It’s February 21st now and I wonder when the so-brilliant and imaginative Councillors in Blackpool are going to grasp the nettle, take their courage in both hands, display just a modicum, of common sense and authorise the tramway extension to the station – most of which would be paid for by the grant from outside.? Even one councillor against the project can surely be outvoted by the others? Where is their drive? Where is their courage? Where is their vision?

  22. Mike Blackpool says:

    Blackpool Council – Full Council Meeting 12 March 2014 18.00,-minutes-and-agendas.aspx

    Extract from Appendix 4(h).

    ‘A report to the Executive on the proposed tramway extension to North Station is being prepared. Members will be asked to decide whether to proceed with the scheme’.

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