An increase in direct rail services between Blackpool and London could boost tourism and investment in the resort.
That is the hope of business and civic leaders following the news two rival bids had been submitted to operate services.
The Gazette revealed yesterday how Virgin Trains had submitted proposals to operate three new services a day between Blackpool and London from May next year.
Alliance Rail has also put forward plans to the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) for as many as six new direct trains commencing in May 2019.
Both bids are currently subject to rail industry consultation following which Network Rail will make a recommendation to the ORR.
No new services are set in stone, but council chiefs are hopeful of seeing an better capital link.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “It is really exciting news that we have not one but two major companies competing to run extra direct rail services between Blackpool North and London.
“This is a real indicator of Blackpool returning to the big time and more direct train services will tie in perfectly with attracting new businesses and conferences to the resort, as well as improving commuter accessibility and making Blackpool much easier to visit from the south – all of which contribute to a stronger local economy.
“The fact that these are two private companies competing off their own back to deliver services in Blackpool shows that they can see a demand and a market in coming to Blackpool, which is an excellent indicator of our improved business offer.”
Stephen Pierre, who established the Galleon Bar, is a regular traveller and outspoken voice on rail issues.
He believes direct trains, made possible by the electrification of the line, could boost tourism.
He said: “It would be great to bring more visitors to London to our own town, to market the new link and the attractions on offer.
“Maybe Merlin could have adeal from their London attractions. Anything to attract more visitors.
“Hopefully this will get the green light.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden knows there is a long way to go.
He said: “I think it is important to look closely at the two proposals but I am glad there is a competitive element.
“We want to see assurances as to how these bids can be delivered. Promises have been made before.”