Virgin u-turn on rail link

Poulton Railway station
Poulton Railway station
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Rail campaigners were today celebrating after train giant Virgin announced its Blackpool to London services will stop at Poulton station after all.

The original decision to miss out the stop on the way to London and include Kirkham was met with outrage.

But Ben Wallace MP for Preston North and Wyre has received confirmation the link will include Poulton following a meeting with Virgin Rail chiefs and a community campaign.

He said: “I am delighted that Virgin has listened and barring any technical difficulties will be including Poulton on the Blackpool to London line. I would like to thank all concerned residents who contacted me to highlight their concerns and also pass on their local knowledge to me.

“From the outset I was determined to fight the decision not to stop at Poulton and now due to Virgin’s rethink, residents will be able to go to London direct.”

The station was not included in the first plans because Virgin claimed the platform was not long enough. However, the company has now confirmed that work carried out to improve the station in 2010 will allow Virgin Voyager trains to call at Poulton.

John Bailie, from Concerned Residents of Poulton, said: “It was ludicrous that it wasn’t going to stop at Poulton when you consider the investment at the station and it’s the centre of such a large population.

“A lot of other people did a lot of work and put research into the whole thing and so did people in the community.

“It was essential for the town that such an important train should serve the people of Poulton and the area.

“The passenger numbers out of the town are very healthy and have increased over the years, so environmentally it’s a benefit because it stops people travelling to Kirkham.”

Geoff Ogden, secretary of Poulton and Wyre Railway Society, says Poulton’s link up with the capital will give other Wyre areas better access to London.

He said: “It’s brilliant news.

“People from Poulton can now travel to London and not only is Blackpool connected it also connects the people of Fleetwood who can come down and in one fell swoop, get to London.

“It can only benefit businesses because what we are really doing is bringing the centre of commerce in London to Poulton where they can interconnect on the Fylde.”

A spokesman for Virgin said: “When we started planning our services for Blackpool we always hoped to be able to stop at Poulton.

“The investigations we have made since make it likely this could happen.

“We now need to take a train there to make sure everything is correct and we hope to be serving the people of Poulton from December this year.”

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