Take a seat to decide future of rail travel
For some commuters just getting a seat on the train is a luxury.
So imagine being presented with a choice... not just for one journey but for the future of travel across the north.
Passengers at Blackpool North are being asked to vote with their bottoms as rail operator Northern finalises details of a multi-million pound investment.
The company is set to receive 281 new carriages from 2018 - with hundreds more already being used on the network set to be refurbished to ‘as new’ condition.
And passengers have been given a choice on what new seats will be installed as part of a makeover, designed to bring Blackpool and the Fylde coast’s rail services into the 21st century.
The company launched a two-day roadshow event at Blackpool North yesterday, asking passengers to vote for their preferred seating.
And there’s still time to have your say, with voting open until the end of this evening’s rush hour.
Azam Mohammed and Sinead Whiteside were on their way back to Cambridge after a visit to Blackpool.
They both took the chance to test out the seats on offer.
“I think it’s good they are giving people the chance to be involved in the choice,” said Azam.
“Normally you just get whatever the company wants to buy.
“We use the trains quite a lot and some of the seats, even on the new trains, aren’t very comfortable,”
“There’s one clear winner,” added Sinead.
“If you’ve got a long journey, like we have, a comfy seat is really important.
“It’s good that they can see that.”
Avril Kinsella, from Dublin 27, was arriving on a day trip.
She said: “The trains definitely need a refresh.
“If you’re a tourist your first impression is quite often the train you catch.
“I think it’s really good they are giving people the choice although some of the seats are more comfortable than others.”
All the mock-up seats included socket and USB charging points.
But there were big differences in the amount of cushioning and the height of the seat backs.
For conductor team manager Stuart Briggs the seat roadshow is just a small part of a very big change on the railways.
By 2018 the Blackpool North line will have been electrified with journey times to Manchester reduced.
Pacer trains, built in the 1980s using bus parts will also be withdrawn, making way for cleaner, faster more comfortable electric units.
“Come to this place in five years and you won’t recognise it,” said Stuart.
“There’s a lot going on.
“There’s new trains, which the roadshow is a part of.
“There’s works planned for the station too.
“You’re going to see constant changes from now on and it’s going to make things a lot better for staff and passengers.”
Travellers weren’t the only ones trying out the various seating options.
Northern’s own staff were also keen to try them out.
“People have been coming down and giving their views.
“But the staff have been trying them out as well.
“They’ve been getting involved and giving their own views.
“It’s been a lot of fun.”