Blackpool's electric rail upgrade sparks increase in passengers for Virgin

The electrification of the Blackpool North line has seen passenger numbers rocket for Virgin Trains
The electrification of the Blackpool North line has seen passenger numbers rocket for Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains has said journeys  to Blackpool North have soared since the electrification of the line by Network Rail.

Its latest figures show that a record number of journeys have been taken on its Blackpool route six months after introducing new electric services to the seaside resort.

Nearly eight times the number of journeys have been made between Preston and Blackpool – from more than 600 journeys in 2017 to 4,800 in 2018.

And the introduction of direct services between Blackpool and Rugby has helped to boost year-on-year journeys between the towns by 67 per cent – nearly 1,800 journeys in the first six months of the new services (May – October 2018), in comparison to 1,000 journeys the year before.

Between May and October 2018, 60,500 journeys were taken between London and Blackpool with Virgin Trains – an increase of eight per cent.

This follows the launch of Virgin’s 35 additional services per week between Blackpool and London in May 2018, which are served by electric Pendolino trains.

The services have also spread opportunity along the West Coast Main Line. Rugby and the West Midlands have benefited from direct links to Blackpool for the first time since Virgin Trains reintroduced direct services between the resort and London in December 2014.

The introduction of the electric services followed Network Rail’s work to electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston and to lengthen the platforms at Blackpool North station allowing the longer Pendolino trains to travel to and from the resort.

Zina Nomicas, general manager at Virgin Trains, said: “We are proud to serve Lancashire and play our part in strengthening Blackpool’s connections with our direct electric Pendolino services launched last year – serving Blackpool more frequently, six days a week.

“Since reintroducing direct services to the resort four years ago we’ve had a great response from the people of Blackpool. We look forward to taking more customers to

Blackpool in 2019, once the resort launches its tourism season.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “The increased frequencies between Blackpool and London demonstrate the clear benefits of the £255m electrification scheme.

"I am pleased so many people have been able to use these trains and am sure Blackpool has benefited from the improved connections they deliver.”