TRADERS fear the suspension of train services into Blackpool could hit business in the run-up to Christmas.
Engineering works to electrify the line have forced operators to cancel routes between the resort and Preston for the next two weekends.
Connecting buses will be used instead. The disruption means no trains will run between Preston and Blackpool North in both directions for the next two weekends, while Blackpool South services will also be hit on the next two Saturdays.
Business leaders fear the move will mean fewer visitors for the town.
Warwick Tunnicliffe, chairman of the St John’s Square Traders Association, said: “I am dismayed as it probably will have an adverse effect on our Christmas trade in Blackpool.
“It would be better if the train companies could do this work after Christmas when it would have less of an impact.”
John Leeming, assistant manager of Abingdon Street Market, said: “I think losing the weekend trains will be a big blow to Blackpool, because especially in the current economic climate, people need trade to be strong at Christmas.”
Eileen Ormand, manager of the Blackpool town centre Business Improvement District, said: “I am disappointed as these are busy weeks for us, but this has happened before and the trains are always replaced with an adequate bus service.
“They are upgrading the railway which will hopefully bring more people into Blackpool in the long term.”
Northern Rail spokeswoman Joselyn Rankin apologised for any inconvenience.
She added: “Where possible, we avoid planned engineering work during times when we know there will be higher volumes of passengers.
“Carrying out work at this time of year helps minimise the impact on tourist traffic to and from Blackpool.
“With this particular project, the work started the weekend after the Illuminations finished and the line will be open again for the last two weekends before Christmas.”