Rail link fight launched on the Fylde

A Virgin train on the West Coast Main Line.
A Virgin train on the West Coast Main Line.
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Community leaders have vowed to challenge the bombshell decision to reject Virgin’s bid to run a Blackpool to London rail link.

MPs, councillors and leading business figures have led the calls for Network Rail to explain their decision and are taking action to challenge the country’s rail operator.

Virgin’s bid was thrown out when Network Rail announced the West Coast Main Line is already too busy and could not accommodate 
extra routes.

Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and leisure at Blackpool Council, said: “I’m very disappointed at the news, however we will certainly be making challenges against the decision and working along with Virgin.

“We have an operator who is willing to put this service on and this would’ve been a God send for the town.

“I want a full explanation from Network Rail about why they’ve come to this decision.”

The link was supported by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions when Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire, questioned why Network Rail had blocked Virgin’s bid for a direct link to London his constituency.

The Prime Minister said: “We want to see more direct rail links like the one of which he speaks and there’s also the need for better links to Lancashire and indeed to Blackpool.

“One of the issues the rail industry is battling with is the shortage of capacity and one of the things that high speed network will help bring is freeing up of capacity to make more of these direct links possible.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “My fellow Fylde MPs and I are quite prepared to demand an urgent meeting with the Transport Secretary if this matter isn’t cleared up relatively soon.”

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