Blackpool North station resembles a ghost town as rail strike hits

Blackpool North station resembled a ghost town as the first of three strikes in five days by rail workers across the national network went ahead on Tuesday.

By Tony Durkin
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:28 pm

Shutters down, car park empty, taxi rank deserted – a stark contrast to what would normally be a bustling scene as dazzling sunshine provided the perfect conditions to attract visitors to Blackpool on a glorious midsummer’s day.

Blackpool was among several destinations around the country left without any trains whatsoever as the strikes by the RMT union over pay and conditions came into effect, with a second to follow on Thursday and the third planned for Saturday, when the absence of visitors to the resort via that form of transport will be even more noticeable.

North station normally brings in passengers from Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and beyond, while Blackpool South on Waterloo Road and just as devoid of activity on Tuesday and on the other strikes days, heads to the coast from east Lancashire and serves stations through south Fylde as well as the Pleasure Beach.

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Blackpool North train station resembled a ghost town on Tuesday as it was is closed due to the national rail strike

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With no replacement buses available, those who would normally use the train are being left to their own devices to get to their destinations or make alternative arrangement, whatever the inconvenience.

Among those badly affected was Blackpool dad Marcin Jamorski, who turned up at North station hoping to catch the 9.29am train to Manchester to take his 16-month-old son Tymon to a hospital appointment.

He said he hadn’t realised services would be completely wiped out by the strike and that he had no alternative but to try and rearrange the appointment.

Marcin Jamorski was unable to take his 16-month-old son Tymon to a hospital appointment in Manchester because of the strike

"We have no other way of getting there,” he said.

"Tymon has check up appointments every three months after being scalded and it is important we don’t miss them.

"We are due to fly to see family in Poland very soon and rearranging a date could be difficult."

The RMT membership at Blackpool includes many conductors and cleaners as well as fitters and other depot workers and they were joined on a picket line at the car park to the rear of North station by Kevin Morrison, the union’s national executive committee member for Manchester and the North West.

RMT members on the picket line at Blackpool North station

He said: “We have been encouraged by the overwhelming support for the action from the travelling public.

"People realise how difficult times are regarding inflation and the cost of living.

"Sometimes we have to have a fight back – we can’t just accept imposition of pay freezes, attacks on terms and conditions and job losses.”

Meanwhile, Fylde MP Mark Menzies is urging rail operator Northern, which provides the services to the Fylde coast, to consider how it can keep the area moving with major events planned for the coming weeks.

All shuttered up - Blackpool North station on Tuesday morning

This week’s strikes could be followed by more, possibly coinciding with the summer tourism peaks and Mr Menzies is disappointed a way cannot be found to run limited services on the Blackpool and Fylde branches.

Mr Menzies said: “My worry is that this will not only be damaging for the economy here in Fylde but for the long-term viability of the railways.

“When we are pushing for major investment, to improve services and frequency here in Fylde we need to encourage more people onto the trains, not damage passenger confidence.”

Going nowhere - a train inside the deserted station