Anger over rail delays lead to calls for clarity as bosses slam 'unfounded' rumours

The work ongoing at Blackpool North train station
The work ongoing at Blackpool North train station
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MPs called for clarity over the progress on the huge rail upgrade project linking the resort to Preston and beyond.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard demanded answers from rail bosses over the town’s rail re-opening, while Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden asked for clarity over confusion about why Blackpool North’s platform one has been closed off to the public amid rumours of problems with groundwork.

Workers were pictured deep in conversation earlier this week

Workers were pictured deep in conversation earlier this week

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Questions have been asked about whether the track bed and platform foundations were sinking, but Network Rail said the rumours were ‘unfounded’.

A communications manager said fences were put up to surround equipment kept there for easy access which, due to the current reduced timetable, will ‘not impact train services’.

The route between Blackpool North and Preston was closed for 22 weeks to allow upgrade works to take place. Travellers found out last Thursday that trains would resume this week, but only one train per hour would operate.

A full service is now expected by May 20.

Mr Maynard questioned the short-notice of Northern’s announcement and the continued uncertainty over timetables.

He said: “The public was led to believe all train services would resume this week. I am disappointed that following a strong start on this scheme Northern and Network Rail have not delivered for passengers in Blackpool.

“It is not acceptable to publish timetables on a week-by-week basis and I have urged Northern to urgently address this issue. This problem has been compounded by the repeated cancellation of early morning trains.

Mr Maynard also asked Network Rail to clarify how a road crash involving electrification equipment contributed to delays, and asked for urgent reassurances the route will be ready for electric trains next month.

Mr Marsden said: “We need absolute clarity. The latest confusion over why Platform One has been fenced off, and the fact I have not had a satisfactory answer over that, adds to the continued unreliability of Network Rail’s promises about when the work will be completed and whether there will be further delays.”

Network Rail said it had asked Northern Rail to ‘stable plant and equipment within’ the platform, which will allow the ‘remaining snagging works’ to be done overnight.