Call for more rail services

Rail - Squires Gate station
Rail - Squires Gate station
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Rail users have called for a more frequent train service and better ticket collection in south Fylde.

Campaign group the South Fylde Community Rail Partnership has made the recommendations as part of a consultation over franchising rights on the line, which are set to be decided next year.

The organisation says the single track line, which runs between Blackpool South and Kirkham, needs to be better marketed given an expected rise in passenger numbers due to new housing developments set to be built across St Annes.

Coun Tony Ford, who serves on both St Annes Town Council and the partnership, said: “We all reiterated the view that we’d like a more frequent service on the line, which would involve a passing loop at Ansdell.

“From the town council’s point of view I pointed out our emerging neighbourhood plan which identifies railways as having some potential growth.

“With the new development at Pontins 400 houses will be built, all close to Squires Gate station,”

There is currently no facility to buy tickets at Squires Gate, with many passengers able to make journeys without paying to nearby stations on the line before a ticket collector can reach them, campaigners say.

Coun Ford added: “We think there should be improved ticket collections because people who travel on that route without a ticket get away with it.”

Three companies have been shortlisted to run the Northern franchise, while three companies are being considered for the TransPennine Express franchise - which both operate services on the Fylde coast.

The Government’s Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “The north is undergoing a real rail renaissance, and we will be asking these companies to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region.

“Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.”

But the new franchise process has sparked controversy among bosses at the RMT rail union, who claim they will lead to higher fares for passengers.

A number of protest events were held last week at stations across the Fylde coast.