Sports stars back rail campaign

Shelly Woods, Karl Oyston and Mark Nelson have backed The Gazette's campaign.

Shelly Woods, Karl Oyston and Mark Nelson have backed The Gazette's campaign.

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The Fylde coast’s sporting stars have thrown their weight behind The Gazette’s fight to restore a direct train line to London.

As signatures continue to pour in from members of the public, figures from the world of sport have become the latest to back our On Track To The Capital campaign.

The Gazette’s drive is aiming at putting pressure on the Office of Rail Regulation to reverse Netwrok Rail’s decision to thrown out plans for the link.

It has so far been supported by thousands of people from across the Fylde coast.

St Annes-based Paralympian Shelly Woods says she is “definitely” in favour of the link.

She said: “I travel to Euston a lot but if there was a direct link it would be easier.

“At the moment I drive to Preston and get on there, but it would be quite handy ton get a quick train - I wouldn’t even consider driving.”

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

Fylde RFC face half a dozen away fixtures against teams in London and the South East in the upcoming season.

Head coach Mark Nelson said he would back the Gazette’s campaign “one hundred per cent.”

He said: “Rail is by far and away the best mode of transport for us to play league matches in the capital.

“We get on to the Euston service at Preston but that getting minibuses and taxis there.

“We’ve got to unload cars and taxis at Preston and there’s quite often a change of platform at the last minute so then you’ve got a battle to get equipment on in a very short space of time.

“If we’d have had a direct train from Blackpool that would have been a massive boost to the way we travel to games.

“I go to a lot of meetings at Twickenham too and this is one of my big issues as a regular rail user, it’s nonsensical really.”

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

But Network Rail announced earlier this month it had thrown out the Virgin plans because the West Coast Main Line was already overcrowded and extra routes would make on the route matters worse.

Blackpool FC have three trips to the capital in the 2013/14 season and chairman Karl Oyston has previously given his backing to the campaign.