Station revamp ‘does not go far enough’

Kirkham and Wesham Train Station

Kirkham and Wesham Train Station

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A councillor is calling for further improvements at a Fylde railway station, as Blackpool prepares to run a direct train to London after an 11-year absence.

Railway workers have been carrying out improvements on the platform at Kirkham and Wesham station to make sure it is ready for Virgin Trains’ new Blackpool-London service, which launches on Monday.

But Kirkham councillor Liz Oades says a pledge to put a lift in the station 10 years ago has yet to be met – and is vital if the station is to come up to scratch.

In the past week, a section of the platform that has been unused for some time has been cleared, while Network Rail workers fixed any trip hazards, ensuring passengers boarding or disembarking the tilting Voyager trains can do so safely.

The work follows on from preparations that Virgin Trains has been carrying out.

Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “Working with Northern Rail, we have ensured the station is prepared and ready for the longer Virgin Trains services, which will begin to call at Kirkham later this month.”

Virgin Trains has put almost 100 of its staff through special training for the big day, which is set to be a boost for Fylde coast commuters and the local economy.

The reinstatement of the direct route came following a 15-month On Track To The Capital campaign led by The Gazette.

But Coun Oades believes that, despite the good news of the direct line returning, more developments are needed at the station.

She said: “When we look at our counterparts in London and the impressive nature of stations like St Pancras, we feel like the poorer relations.

“It’s excellent news to have the direct line, but it would be lovely to make the station Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant.

“Ten years ago Lancashire County Council agreed to put half the money forward for funding a lift at the station, but the rail authorities never matched the other half to ensure it went ahead.

“It’s absolutely essential we have that facility, not just for disabled users, but for people with pushchairs too.”

The direct train from Blackpool will leave Blackpool North station at 5.25am and arrive at Euston at 8.34am.

The services will run initially from Monday to Friday, calling at Poulton, as well as Kirkham and Wesham.

The returning train will leave London at 4.33pm, arriving at Blackpool North at 7.31pm.