RAIL users have reacted with dismay after their station was omitted for plans for a direct route between Blackpool and London.
Campaigners in Poulton say that while they welcome the planned return of a three hour direct service, they are disappointed Virgin Rail has not included a stop at their station.
Wyre MP Ben Wallace today called for an urgent meeting with officials from Virgin in order to get more detail about the London to Blackpool North Service and said he would do everything in his power to include a Poulton stop-off.
He said, “I need to know if Virgin intends to make Poulton-Le-Fylde a regular stop on the new service, and if not why not?
“I believe it is vital for the town that this service stops in Poulton-Le-Fylde. I have always supported getting this service re-instated, however, if it does not stop in Poulton-Le-Fylde I will withdraw my support from this bid and support any rival bid which will stop in the town.
“The people and businesses of the town are having to deal with bridgeworks on Tithebarn Street in order to upgrade the line. It is right that they should benefit from the upgraded line when finished.”
Carol Woolley, chairman of the Poulton Civic Trust said: “I cannot understand why Virgin would not want to stop at Poulton station.
“It has a huge catchment area and I would have thought that more people would want to get on there than at Kirkham or even Blackpool.
“We have great facilities there. I would only ask them to look again at Poulton.”
Wyre Council leader Coun Peter Gibson said Virgin would be missing out on a big commercial opportunity not to include Poulton.
He said: “If we do not get a stop on the line, what will happen is that people from Poulton will just carry on driving to Preston to catch the train there. I think it would be a nonsense decision. Blackpool to Manchester trains will stop here so why not the London trains.”
John Bailie, of Concerned Residents of Poulton, said: “I find it alarming and very disappointing that the trains are not planned to stop at Poulton. It is a hub town with radial road links to its conurbation, and the station has only recently been upgraded.”
A spokesman for Virgin Trains said commercially they would love to bring the service to Poulton but there may be operational reasons why this may not be possible.
Gary Iddon, General Manager Scotland and the North, said of the direct service: “If our proposals are accepted we hope to have the service up and running by December 2013. We believe this service will be really well received by commuters and travellers who can now contemplate the opportunity of a quicker route to and from the capital, and look forward to bringing the Virgin Trains difference to the people of Blackpool.”