PASSENGERS have been forced to remain on trains, because carriages were too packed for people to get safely to the doors.
Traders say weekend visitors to the Fylde coast are being put off taking the train to Lytham and St Annes after experiencing shock detours of up to 20 miles.
Some Blackpool South-bound trains have been so packed on Saturdays that guards have announced the service won’t be stopping again between Kirkham and Wesham and Blackpool Pleasure Beach – eight miles beyond Lytham and 10 from Moss Side.
It means passengers wanting to get off at Lytham have to stay on the train for some 35 minutes longer than intended to disembark on the way back to Preston.
One elderly visitor said: “It was scary. I think I will be looking for another weekend shopping destination if the trains are going to be so full.”
St Annes Chamber of Trade chairman John Moxham said the issue put people off.
He added: “We hear about all the investment in the West Coast main line, but when it’s a struggle to get between here and Preston, it doesn’t encourage use of public transport.”
And Richard Fulford-Brown, chairman of the South Fylde Line Community Partnership Rail Group, said: “In an ideal world, we would like there to be more investment.”
Carolyn Watson, head of corporate communications at Northern Rail, said: “If a particular service is very overcrowded, where it is felt this is causing a potential safety risk our team may make the decision to run it as an express.
“This is the exception rather than the rule, but will be done to best serve the needs of the majority of customers.
“On the Blackpool South line it is often quicker for passengers travelling to intermediate stations to remain on the train than to wait for alternative transport.
“We apologise to anyone who is inconvenienced in these situations.”