Supporting Blackpool's economy
Blackpool Council aims to control congestion, reduce pollution and decrease accidents on the town's roads by working with local transport operators and agencies, making the town better for residents and businesses.
Up to 17 million visitors per year also come to enjoy the resort's attractions. This data plot map from sales of the council's 'resort pass' shows that people come to Blackpool from all over the country and beyond, demonstrating clearly that the resort needs high quality access into national transport networks.
On arrival, visitors must have good gateways into Blackpool to gain a good impression, encouraging repeat visits and investment.
A local transport plan strategy (2011–2016) [PDF 1.52MB] and Implementation plan [PDF 930KB] explains what our transport policies are. The plan will be revised during 2018 and updates on this work published here.
The strategy covers road, rail, coach, taxi/private hire vehicles, bus, cycling and walking. Effective transport is essential to the resort's economy and vital to its regeneration.
It is a challenge to fit all the facilities that are needed - bus stops, taxi ranks, on-street parking, loading bays pedestrian crossings etc - into what is a densely built-up place.
Maintaining highways assets
The local transport plan programme includes schemes to repair roads, footpaths and bridges to the value of resources available of around £1 million per annum. These have been insufficient to prevent decline in recent years. In response, a programme called Project 30 using prudential borrowing resources to fund repairs to roads and footpaths was delivered and which is now finished. The council continues to look for extra money to pay for repairs.
A bid to the Government's Local Highways Challenge Fund to repair the resort's bridges has been successful. Together with Local Growth Deal money, controlled by the Lancashire Economic Partnership (LEP), this will enable an £11.365million programme to bring ten strategic bridges to a good standard, to be completed by spring 2019.
As it is such a high strategic priority, the council has dedicated considerable local transport plan programme monies to support this work . The first bridge repair at Princess Street was completed on schedule prior to the tourism season's start in spring 2016, followed by the Plymouth Road bridge in 2017.
The council submitted another bid for resources to repair further sections of the vital Yeadon Way highway, to the Government's National Productivity Investment Fund on 30 June 2017. If successful, this would make £3,350,000 available to spend on important repairs.
Government occasionally makes additional funding available to repair pot holes or respond to the damage that severe winter weather can cause.
In February 2017, Blackpool Council was pleased to be allocated £494,000 from the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund, which will be spent in 2017/18 in accordance with its Local Transport Plan objectives. The funding will contribute to four schemes that will add resilience and longevity to the highway network and improve public transport:
- The transport hub on Market Street to improve interchange for buses and ranking for taxis, now complete
- Making Cookson Street two-way between George Street and Caunce Street, integrated with the town centre quality corridors programme
- Structural maintenance on the Promenade, as certain key stretches of this strategic road are in urgent need of repair
- Essential maintenance to key structures that are not covered by the bridges investment programme
The council is committed to maintaining and improving public rights of way and is working with Lancashire County Council to develop a new Rights of Way Improvement Strategy to run between 2015 and 2025. The strategy is available here.
Encouraging sustainable development
Good transport links to the wider economy are crucial to encouraging inward investment in Blackpool. Residents and businesses need good access to workplaces, shops, schools, education, health care and roads or public transport services to neighbouring towns. When any large developments are proposed in Blackpool, an assessment by the council is required to outline what transport arrangements will be made throughout the duration of the works and after they have finished.
Virgin Trains restored a daily direct service between Blackpool and London and hopes that this can be expanded, when electrification of the main railway line is complete. Access to London is recognised as a key consideration for those who might invest in Blackpool.
The council is working with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to implement a scheme called Town Centre Quality Corridors, which will improve the town centre public realm.
It has been determined that Church Street, Cookson Street, Dickson Road, Topping Street, Edward Street, Deansgate and Talbot Road will be priority areas for this investment of Local Growth Deal resources. Church Street works were completed during 2017. It is hoped that the Talbot Road scheme will be integrated with the tramway extension scheme on the same corridor. After final designs had been developed, the scheme went on site early in 2017 with a target completion in 2020.
The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has granted approval for further Local Growth Deal resources to be used to fund a Blackpool Integrated Traffic Management scheme. This will use a sophisticated parking guidance system using variable message signing to reduce wasteful car park search trips and thus reduce network congestion, particularly the important Promenade public realm area. It is intended that this come into operation during 2018.
Blackpool's local transport plan meets the environmental requirements outlined in the strategic environmental assessment directive (European Directive 2001/42/EC) [PDF 813KB]. Policies to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport all contribute to this.
The council has worked with Lancashire County Council to develop a Fylde Coast Transport Masterplan. This document can be viewed here.
Supporting transport innovation
Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council have worked together to renew the tramway from Blackpool to nearby town Fleetwood, enabling a fleet of 16 modern 'Flexity 2' trams to help people travel between Fylde Coast destinations.
Heritage trams continue to use the system, providing a service for tourists and enthusiasts and making a fine sight as they ply the Promenade.
The two councils now wish to extend this, initially to connect to train services at Blackpool North railway station, for which the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership will provide some funding.
This scheme will provide vastly improved public transport access to Blackpool's seafront hotels and attractions, particularly the Pleasure Beach, and connect the North Fylde to the national rail network.
The Fylde coast councils have been partners within the SINTROPHER (Sustainable Integrated Tram-Based Transport Options for Peripheral European Regions) project, providing 7.2m Euro from the European Union Interreg IVB initiative to study ways in which the tramway might be extended. This concluded that a scheme to initially extend the tramway to Blackpool North railway station should be pursued.
A second phase SINTROPHER project headed by Lancashire County Council with Blackpool Council's support, has considered how the South Fylde Line might be improved to best meet the Fylde Coast's regeneration needs. This single-track line provides a vital local rail service and brings many visitors to Blackpool from East Lancashire, to the extent that there has been over-crowding on the trains. The study's conclusions are available on the SINTROPHER website.
A bid to the Department for Transport's Funding for Innovation: Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems competition was submitted on 30 September 2016 . In January 2017 it was announced that this bid had been successful, making a total budget of £260,000 available to enable state of the art traffic guidance and queue management systems to be installed on the road network, with the aim of reducing congestion across the resort. This project will be completed prior to April 2018.
Supporting local public transport
Blackpool benefits from a high-quality bus network. The council's intention is to increase the number of residents and visitors using the bus, in line with the Local Transport Plan. Services are provided by Blackpool Transport Services, Stagecoach Bus, Preston Bus and Catch22 Bus. Timetables and other information can be found on these companies' sites.
The council is currently reviewing town centre bus stop arrangements. In the absence of a bus station, it is essential that the best use of on-street stops is made.
A recognisable bus hub focused on Market and Corporation Street is required, with good service information and this is being developed. There is no site to provide a bus station at the moment and such would be a major undertaking when no obvious funding source is available.
Recently a successful bid to the Government's Clean Vehicle Technology Fund was submitted. This has allowed 25 older buses to be fitted with polluting emissions control technology, improving town centre air quality. These vehicles came back into service in their improved configuration during 2015 and 2016. Blackpool Transport Services has now embarked on a programme to re equip with Euro 6 emissions standards compliant vehicles.
The council recognises the important role taxis and private hire vehicles play in supporting the visitor and night-time economies. The role landaus play in providing pleasure trips is also acknowledged. Regular dialogue occurs between representatives of the trade and council officers concerning network and ranking issues, ensuring that appropriate ranks are available. Taxis and private hire vehicles reduce the need for car ownership for the occasional car user. They provide an essential link between transport hubs, hotels and attractions.
The coach industry continues to bring many people to the resort and this is valued. Drop off and pick up facilities are provided at the Central car park site and new shelters have been provided recently.
Coach parking locations are identified on an interactive map in the parking services section of this site.
The need for new and better coach facilities is kept under ongoing review. Improved shelters were provided at the central coach facility for the 2016 season.
The council participated in the Cycling England Cycle Towns programme (2008 and 2011), providing routes and sporting facilities. Work to build on this legacy continues. Improvements to the A587 corridor were made using resources from a successful bid to the Government's Cycling Safety Fund. Further minor works are funded from the local transport plan programme, including cycle parking. It continues to promote cycling for transport, sport and leisure.
During October 2015 it was possible to replace previously popular cycle parking at Clifton and Corporation Street that had had to be removed, with usage picking up immediately. The council has worked with Northern Railway to provide cycle parking at Layton station. Northern Railway has provided excellent covered cycle storage at Blackpool North railway station.
Blackpool has several cycle routes. Cycling on the Promenade is a popular activity, particularly using the Jubilee Cycleway to the North. On completion of sea wall works at Anchorsholme, it will be possible to cycle all the way between Starr Gate and Fleetwood.
Cycling is permitted in all town centre areas, with care and indicated by cycle symbol 'flags' let into the ground. A Blackpool cycle map is available on this site.
The Blackpool Cycling Forum has now been disbanded, following its final meeting in June 2015.
Around a million visitors arrive by train each year and summer trains can be crowded. Following the North Fylde Line's electrification over the winter of 2017/18, most services will be delivered using electric trains. The York service will benefit from new diesel trains with far better facilities than those that have been used previously.
Rail infrastructure operator, Network Rail, is intending to complete electrification in the early part of 2018. Blackpool North railway station's platforms will be rebuilt and re-signalled to allow more efficient operation and therefore more trains in the future.
At the time of writing, the station is closed for this work to be completed. Bus replacement is operating on a 15 minute timetable, direct to Preston or via intermediate stations. Blackpool South Station is anticipated to reopen on 29 January 2018 and Blackpool North on 26 March 2018.
In April 2016, Northern Railway took control of the resort's direct rail services to Manchester Victoria, Hazel Grove, York and Manchester Airport. This company's website provides all timetable information. Virgin Trains provide a single 5:25 service to London Euston. These services will be restored when the station reopens before a new timetable is implemented from May 2018.
The Alliance Rail 'open access operator' is intending to operate six daily services from Blackpool to London from 2018.
The delay in electrification has cost Blackpool its direct rail link to Liverpool as electric trains now serving that important destination cannot run through to Blackpool. This service should be restored when electrification work is complete.
The council lobbies the railway industry for more investment in Blackpool rail services. It is a member of the West Coast Rail 250 group, which has been instrumental in improving the vital West Coast Main-line, bringing visitors from Scotland and the south and connecting the resort's businesses to London. Recently the council has supported the Rail North organisation, which will be helping manage the northern rail franchises, and is a stakeholder in the Transport for the North organisation, which is looking at new strategic transport links to benefit the whole of the north.
The council has supported the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership for many years. It is also a partner with Lancashire County Council in the Sintropher project's connectivity study on this single-track line line, with a view to seeking investment in the future.
Transport policy promotes equality and helps people to contribute to society. An LTP strategy Equalities impact assessment [PDF 76KB] has been prepared.