Calls for answers after rail setback

Paul Maynard is seeking assurances from Network Rail over planned upgrades on the Fylde coast
Paul Maynard is seeking assurances from Network Rail over planned upgrades on the Fylde coast
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Rail bosses are coming under pressure to ensure upgrades to the line between Blackpool and Preston are not affected after the contractor working on the project pulled out.

The planned electrification of the route to Blackpool North was plunged further into doubt when Balfour Beatty announced it had ended its deal with Network Rail to carry out the work.

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has said he will meet with Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s routes managing director, on September 1 to “seek assurances”.

It comes as the Government insisted it remains committed to the project as it called on the organisation to find a replacement for
Balfour Beatty.

Mr Maynard said: “I have a meeting the next week with the managing director of routes at Network Rail where I will be seeking reassurances.

“I am aware that both Network Rail and the Government are committed to the electrification of the line between Preston and Blackpool and that they both see it as a priority.

“I will be using the opportunity of the meeting to ensure the project is planned in the appropriate way and to the needs of the local population, bearing in mind that the railway brings a great many visitors to Blackpool during the season.”

The Gazette revealed last week that plans to upgrade the line from Blackpool to Preston and beyond had been cast into doubt when Balfour Beatty pulled out if its deal with rail bosses amid delays and fears over the cost of the project.

The company had completed two of the seven phases of the scheme but work has yet to start on the Fylde coast.

Network Rail said it was still committed to the project but gave no indication of when the work – which had already been pushed back to 2017, rather than the original 2016 start date – will begin.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to the North West electrification programme as part of our ambitious plans for the Northern Powerhouse.

“We are clear that we expect Network Rail to deliver electrification to Blackpool as planned so that passengers can benefit as soon as possible.

“It is for Network Rail to manage its relationship with contractors as necessary.”