Rail link ‘crucial to resort’s future say sign-up traders

The Mayor of Blackpool Councillor Eddie Collett and local business people signing the Gazette Rail Link petition at Blackpool Town Hall.
The Mayor of Blackpool Councillor Eddie Collett and local business people signing the Gazette Rail Link petition at Blackpool Town Hall.
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Business leaders and traders have emphasised the importance of a Blackpool to London rail link for the town’s future.

At a meeting with Coun Eddie Collett, the mayor of Blackpool, traders from across the resort backed The Gazette’s campaign to connect the Fylde coast with the capital.

Network Rail announced last Tuesday it had thrown out the Virgin plans because the West Coast Main Line was already overcrowded and extra routes would make matters worse.

The news outraged many on the Fylde coast, leading The Gazette to set up a petition, which has so far won the backing of more than 1,200 people and businesses.

Eileen Ormand, town centre and Blackpool Business Improvement District manager, said: “I believe it’s an absolutely crucial link for us.

“Blackpool is moving into the future and we’ve got to have this link.

“Whether it be for bringing people in and out or business development we need it to bring Blackpool into the 21st century.”

Craig Savage, director of North West Refrigeration Limited, based at Sycamore Trading Estate in Blackpool, added: “A few of my customers own businesses in Blackpool but have premises in London and come up here two or three times a week in a van because they can’t get decent transport connections.

“It would be amazing for them to come up here by rail and it would bring in trade and jobs from outside the area.”

Virgin Rail had initially announced the service, which last ran in 2003, would be 
resuming this winter.

Network Rail threw out the plans, but the fight is on to re-instate the connection.

Coun Collett said: “It’s a mistake on behalf of Network Rail that they could possibly have missed all the facts about how important this will be to Blackpool. Direct rail links to the capital are an important business tool for any industry, even more so where tourism trade is an important part of the make up.”

Kevin Bambury, of Pixel Work Design Limited, on Church Street, Blackpool, added: “Blackpool seems to be getting over-looked, but this will be an absolutely vital part of our tourists’ access to Blackpool if we can secure it.”

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard met with transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin to discuss the matter on Monday.

Mr Maynard said: “I made the point that Blackpool and the wider Fylde coast needs this link to help with the economic development of the area. It is of course ludicrous for Network Rail to decide that it will not allow this service.”

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