Frustration at more disruption for Blackpool and Fylde rail users

Bus replacement service at Blackpool North train station
Bus replacement service at Blackpool North train station
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Fylde rail passengers are facing more weekends of disruption in the New Year.

The line between Preston and Blackpool will be closed for seven consecutive Sundays from January 6 for the final phase of drainage improvements as part of the multi-billion pound Great North Rail Project.

It will see buses again replace trains between Preston and both Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations, as was the case during a lengthy closure of the route for electrification earlier this year.

The announcement coincided with calls by MPs on the Transport Serlect Committee for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to quit over the disruption to services, including that caused by Northern Rail timetable changes.

A Fylde passengers spokesman fears it will already take years to restore confidence in train travel.

Paul Nettleton, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users’ Association, said: “It seems never ending – I’ve never known disruption like it in 35 years as chairman.

“Confidence is rail travel has already been severely hit and I fear it will already take years for it to be restored.

“I can’t understand why this drainage work wasn’t done at the same time as the electrification.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at train operator Northern, said: “I’m sure our customers will be frustrated with more engineering work, but I’d like to thank them for their continued patience.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Brookes, a Blackpool-based rail sector champion for disabled people, has echoed the Transport Select Committee’s criticism following the rail chaos earlier this year.

He said ‘The impact on disabled people of the changes and the short-term notification was absolutely disastrous. I have no faith any changes will be for the better for disabled people for a very long time.”