MP demands answers after Blackpool left out of transport masterplan for the North

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard
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Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has written to transport bosses demanding answers after the resort was largely overlooked in their blueprint for the future of transport.

Transport for the North has unveiled proposals for £70bn of investment across the region, including high speed rail expansion. However, Blackpool and the Fylde coast did not feature on some maps detailing upgrade schemes.

The report sets out the organisation’s priorities for improving transport in the North and calls on the Government to make them happen.

Mr Maynard said: “The Strategic Transport Plan and Investment Programme is designed to rebalance decades of under-investment in the North.

“I am concerned, however, that the focus of the proposals is confined to a small corridor.

“Connecting our major conurbations is important, but it is equally vital that links are improved for communities like Blackpool, where better transport can help drive regeneration.”

Mr Maynard recently put forward his own proposals for a Fylde coast wide integrated transport system, called the Fylde Coast Loop. He met community rail campaigners last week to discuss the plans and wider investment in Fylde’s trains.

He said: “Talk of connecting the North is all well and good but Blackpool doesn’t even feature on Transport for the North’s Northern Powerhouse rail map.

“I have asked that serious consideration is given to how Blackpool and the wider Fylde coast can share in this £70bn investment.”

Despite his concerns over the Transport for the North scheme, Mr Maynard added that he believed the town will benefit from improved transport links as a result of the construction of HS2, a high-speed railway system which, when completed, will connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

He said: “HS2 will not only deliver faster journeys between major cities, it will free up capacity on existing lines, opening up opportunities for more direct services to and from Blackpool.

“Alongside ongoing investment in the existing network, this project can make a real difference for passengers.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “If government is to truly deliver on the Northern Powerhouse, the benefits must be felt in all the key economic areas of the North, including in Blackpool and across the Fylde coast.

“The delayed electrification work to the line to Preston last year, combined with the issues with how Network Rail also developed the May 2018 timetable, had a huge impact on the local economy, including cutting visitor numbers at the leading attractions.

“The Strategic Transport Plan is a welcome first step to the investment of up to £120bn in multi-modal transport infrastructure, and Blackpool is integral to this Plan as business, political and civic leaders continue making the case for the North.”