Rail upgrade after 'generation of neglect'

Mark Menzies at Kirkham Station
Mark Menzies at Kirkham Station
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A generation of neglect is being put right on the Fylde coast’s railways, says MP Mark Menzies.

The Fylde MP has welcomed a huge programme of improvements which will see the route between Blackpool and Preston electrified and a major redevelopment of the station at Kirkham and Wesham.

Mr Menzies met Network Rail officials to talk over the plans which will see a new platform and lifts built and step-free access provided for the first time.

It is hoped the improvements at Kirkham will allow more passengers to get on trains to and from Blackpool South, and on electric trains between Preston and Blackpool North from May 2018 as well as reducing the knock-on impact of delays.

Mr Menzies said: “Railways in Fylde have been neglected for more than a generation.

“I’m glad to see that is now changing fast.

“I am delighted to see work is finally set to begin on electrification and much-needed station improvements at Kirkham.

“Electrification of the Blackpool North Line will give a significant economic boost to the area, allowing more services to run and more efficiently, giving more commuters and leisure travellers access to the area.

“It will also allow us to see up to eight services a day to and from London from Kirkham.

“And I am pleased the long-standing need for a lift at the station will also finally be met, a move that will make the station accessible to people who should have been able to use the station for years.”

Michael Butler, commercial scheme sponsor at Network Rail said: “The new lifts, footbridge, platforms, modern signalling system and track improvements at Kirkham and Wesham station will help pave the way for new electric trains between Preston and Blackpool North from May 2018.

“Ultimately, it will benefit the local economy by helping more passengers get to work and school, see their friends and family, as well as travel to major tourist attractions in the area.”

Sharon Keith, regional director at Northern said: “This is another example of the partnership work being carried out across the rail network in the North West which will assist in the modernisation of travel for passengers across the region.

“We have already outlined our commitment to introduce new and refurbished trains across our network and to modernise our stations to provide a rail service fit for the 21st century.

“The work to be carried out by Network Rail at Kirkham and Wesham will complement this commitment by allowing us to run those new trains more effectively and efficiently, providing an improved service to our customers.”