Resort ‘forgotten by transport bosses’

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A string of blows to Blackpool’s railways have left the town’s passengers feeling like “second class citizens”, it was claimed today.

Highways and transport chief Coun John Jones has written to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, asking for urgent action to help get the resort’s trains back on track.

It comes following a string of blows to rail services in the town including the loss of services to Manchester Airport, delays in the long-awaited electrification project and the loss of half of services to and from Liverpool each day.

And despite the return of direct weekday services to London, following The Gazette’s On Track To The Capital campaign, campaigners and passengers told earlier this month how plans to replace newer trains on the Blackpool North line with older, but more spacious, Pacer trains would provide visitors with an appalling first impression of the resort.

In his letter Coun Jones says the problems have followed hot on the heels of each other and, the letter says, “appear to demonstrate a trend of marginalisation of a key and growing gateway” to Blackpool.

He warns of Blackpool’s residents and visitors being “treated like second class citizens” compared to those in the south.

And while welcoming the return of a direct Virgin Trains service to London, the letter urges the Secretary of State to support the return of a direct service on Saturdays which, he says, would better suit the town’s leisure market.

Meanwhile, he also requests reassurance that Blackpool has not “fallen down the priority table in the eyes of the Department for Transport”.

Speaking about his decision to write the letter, Coun Jones said: “I’ve been extremely disappointed with these three decisions which have been like a three pronged attack on the town’s rail services.

“Our residents and visitors deserve much better.

“As a result I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Transport to urge him to intervene, provide reassurance to the people of Blackpool that they’re not being treated like second class citizens and asking him to support the return of a direct train service to and from London on Saturdays.

“I look forward to his response and hope we can make some positive progress.”

The letter comes after The Gazette reported on a string of hammer blows for the rail service in Blackpool on January 19. Newer trains on the Blackpool North line are being moved to Cumbria while older stock, which the Department for Transport say will provide more capacity on busier routes, are being shipped into Blackpool.

But transport campaigners say they are old, slow and unreliable, while passengers and tourism chiefs say the older trains give a poor first impression of the resort.