Rail users kick up a stink over ageing trains

Waste woe: St Annes station and (below) Blackpool MP Gordon Marsden
Waste woe: St Annes station and (below) Blackpool MP Gordon Marsden

Dirt-plagued rail lines and timetable changes are getting up the noses of fed-up Fylde rail users.

Human waste has been reported between the rails on the Preston to Blackpool South line, while a change in services has seen commuters hit with long waits for connecting trains.

Gordon Marsden MP

Gordon Marsden MP

Marion Coupe, chairman of Lytham St Annes Civic Society, said: “We recently went away, and on the outward journey from Ansdell we saw human waste and toilet paper on the tracks. It was terrible.

“On the return journey, we flew back to London, got the train back, and the only place we had an issue was the South Fylde line because the connections don’t work.

“It was easier taking the bus home than waiting for the next service. It’s appalling.”

Trains now arrive as London-bound trains depart, and trains from the capital arrive at Preston after the South Fylde train has departed, meaning waits of an hour or more.

Commuter Paul Hallam, of Mythop Road, Lytham, added: “It is disgusting. I have seen waste on the tracks.

“They’ve messed the timetable up, there’s mess on the tracks, and the trains themselves are a disgrace.

“It’s not fit for purpose and you wonder whether they’re trying to make it ever-more non-viable to eventually close it down.”

Blackpool MP Gordon Marsden has concerns about both the timetabling and waste issues on the Blackpool North and South Fylde lines.

He said: “I have had lots of contact with Trans Pennine and Northern Rail regarding timetabling but the problem is there is no joined-up thinking.

“There needs to be an overhaul in the way operating companies work this out.

“I hope a meeting in December with Network Rail to discuss the closure of Blackpool North for electrification will give us a chance to raise timetabling.

“As for the broader issue, of waste on the tracks, this is a consequence of using older rolling stock. What is particularly worrying is that in the new franchise document the Government has said bidders may use refurbished Pacer trains, which are the ones with no waste tanks.

“They have backtracked on this issue, and it is something that needs revising.”

Stephen Brookes, chairman of the Blackpool Passenger Users’ Panel said: “Both the Blackpool North and Blackpool South line timetables are affected.

“Connections at Preston are a disaster, and do not link up in any strategic way.

“Northbound you can wait for at least 30 minutes after a London train arrives and then four trains will leave in 10 minutes.

“As for the older trains, some people are ignorant and others are selfish. If using toilets while the trains are moving there isn’t really a problem, but in stations it is.

“We may have these trains however, for at least another 10 years.”

A spokeswoman for Northern Rail said: “The trains that operate on the Fylde coast are not fitted with waste tanks and so when toilets are flushed, waste goes on to the tracks. This is why we have clearly displayed signs requesting that customers do not flush toilets while they are standing at a station.

“Unfortunately, this does happen.”