CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

A Year in the life of St Anne’s Station

The Friends of St Anne’s Station have just issued a report setting all the projects they have done during 2022 to make St Anne’s station a welcoming place for rail travellers and a great gateway to the town for visitors.

Tony Ford, Chair of the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership, commented:

“I am really impressed at the number of innovative ideas that the Friends of St Anne’s station have and how they successfully deliver them. They have really connected with the local community by involving them in enhancing the look of the station. I admire the volunteers for assisting with activities and projects at other stations along the South Fylde Line.”

2023 marks the 150th anniversary since the opening of the station and the Friends intend to mark this important landmark in style with a series of events at the station.

St Anne’s Station in 2022

The railway station continues to play an important role in the life and development of St. Anne’s, allowing easy access to the town centre, its retail stores and eateries, leisure facilities, the Promenade and its beaches.

The Mayor of St. Anne’s, Cllr. Karen Harrison as well as the Mayor of Fylde Borough, Cllr. B. Aitkin have both supported projects at the station and taken an active interest in station activities throughout the year.

During 2022 the respective Mayors helped to launch a new pamphlet – the South Fylde Line Guide as well as unveil a History Poster. Both these projects were undertaken during the worst of the pandemic. The major project, the replica Foundation Stone, was officially unveiled in 2022, bringing a successful and fitting conclusion to an idea first mooted in 2019.

Post-COVID recovery

The South Fylde Line has been one of the fastest routes in the Northern network to recover its pre-pandemic passenger numbers during the year. Unfortunately, the current disruption is doing nothing to assist with the recovery and reliability of the train service.

Restoring Your Railway

Work on this project, promoting a passing loop to enable a more frequent service, seems to have stalled.

Government changes and the frequent change of Rail Ministers have delayed the decision-making process. All parties need to be more proactive in moving this project forward and promoting the benefits that an improved service will bring, not only to St. Anne’s but to all the users of the South Fylde Line.

Timetable changes

Lobbying by user groups, Friends groups, the Community Rail Partnership as well as rail passengers has brought about some important timetable and service changes which began this month.

The timetable now operates an identical pattern Monday to Saturday with slightly different times but more importantly, the trains are operating as a shuttle between Blackpool South & Preston and not going on to Colne or Ormskirk thus minimising hold-ups and delays.

Once the rail service is back to normal, St. Anne’s residents and visitors should enjoy a much more robust and reliable service with improved connection times.

Media coverage

Thanks to work undertaken by ICG media group the two stations in St. Anne’s and others along the line have received far more publicity which has enhanced their community profile. The station features in a video ‘a linear walk from Lytham station to St. Annes-on-the-Sea station along the sea front’ produced by Huckleberry Films – available on the CRL Website.

The station and the activities of its volunteers have been used by Northern Railways at community events and in its ‘in house’ publications on several occasions.

National Accreditation

In October the South Fylde Line was awarded accreditation by the Department for Transport.

This is a formal recognition by the Department for Transport that the Community Rail Partnership (CRP) operates to a high standard and that its objectives and activities are supported by the Government. Further, the Government considers the partnership a good representative of its communities.

The South Fylde Line CRP is accountable and has to keep records and produce a Business Plan as well as an Annual Report as part of the accreditation process.

Working with the St. Anne’s Community.

The Friends of the Station have continued to engage with several of the town’s community groups. In 2022 the station was ‘Yarn Bombed’ by the Knitting Group based at St Anne’s Library.

They produced three ‘seascapes’ which were displayed for several months during the summer and provided a talking point amongst station visitors.

Users of the Senior Moments Care/Support Hub on Wood Street created and decorated Easter Egg templates to add a seasonal splash of colour to the station.

They went on to create and display crowns to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee later in the year.

Working with the wider community

Volunteers from St Anne’s offer help at other stations along the line and share resources and equipment. The group work in conjunction with St Anne’s In Bloom, Friends Groups at other stations, Ansdell & Squires Gate in particular, local schools, Community Rail Lancashire and the Community Rail Network.

The group have hosted visitors from other stations and are looking at developing ‘twinning’ links with additional stations including one in New Zealand to share ideas and strengthen the international rail community.

Future events

The station celebrates its 150th birthday in 2023 with the Friends Group planning various events and activities to mark the occasion. Ideas being discussed include:-

  • an illustrated talk on the station’s history,
  • burying a time capsule on the site
  • Holding a ‘birthday party’ involving civic dignitaries
  • Displays of photographs depicted ‘how things used to be’ in empty shop windows
  • Distribution of railway related ‘goody bags’ to passengers
  • A downloadable descriptive talk to be used in conjunction with the St. Anne’s Railway Walk

In addition, the group plans to mark the King’s Coronation with a display of crowns/bunting etc.

The Friends of St Anne’s Station group wish to acknowledge the in-kind and financial support provided by Fylde BC, St Anne’s Town Council, Northern Railways and Community Rail Lancashire. Without their support, many of the projects and activities could not have taken place.

For further information about St Anne’s Train Station, please visit the Community Rail Lancashire Website – St Anne’s Station.