Signing up to keep Blackpool on track

Rail passengers at Blackpool North sign the Gazette petition to save the Blackpool to London direct line.  Gazette reporter David Sharman talks to Scott Henigan and Charlene Bigland.
Rail passengers at Blackpool North sign the Gazette petition to save the Blackpool to London direct line. Gazette reporter David Sharman talks to Scott Henigan and Charlene Bigland.
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Have your say

More than a thousand people have signed up to The Gazette’s On Track to the Capital campaign to bring back a direct rail link between Blackpool and London – but we still need your help.

Passengers at Blackpool North station signed our petition in their droves yesterday to help the resort get back on track to the capital.

And there was support from visitors from other areas of the country too, with some branding Network Rail’s decision not to give the green light to the service as “ridiculous”.

Frank Eyre, 64, and Kath Taylor, 65, from Cromwell Court, North Shore, lent their support to the campaign while waiting at the station for their grandson Darren Dickinson.

Darren is currently based in Suffolk with the RAF, and has to go through London to come home.

Kath said: “It takes him four trains to get back home at the moment and it’s terrible when it can take him more than seven hours. Sometimes he’s standing up all or most of the way too, it’s not on.”

Frank added: “Everybody wants the service back. There are a lot of forces personnel who use that route and this would be a godsend to them.”

Darren said: “It would be a direct line from London so you’d be straight up here.

“It would be much easier.”

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE GAZETTE’S PETITION FOR A DIRECT RAIL LINK BETWEEN BLACKPOOL AND LONDON

John Rhodes, 62, currently lives in Rugby but is visiting family in South Shore.

He said: “It’s ridiculous. When I lived in Blackpool it used to be two and a half hours and you’d be straight through, there wasn’t a problem.”

John and Irene O’Donnell, from Cleveleys Avenue, Cleveleys, were also in agreement.

Irene, 82, said: “We’ve got great-grandchildren there and we try and get down once a year. When you go from here you’ve got to change at Preston and the train already has passengers from Scotland, so it wouldn’t be as busy if it was starting here.

“Sometimes when we go down people are already sat in our seats. Once we’ve got Talbot Gateway finished, more people will want to come here too so it would benefit them.”

John, 85, added: “When we first came here you could get down to London at any time, but that’s not the case now.”

Rebecca Bithell, 18, from Orchard Avenue, South Shore, said: “I would use the service and more people would come here because of it.”

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

But 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.

Some of the town’s most famous faces have already pledged their support after we launched a petition in paper and online at www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk - including West End star Jodie Prenger, Dancing On Ice’s Dan Whiston, football legend Jimmy Armfield and Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston.