Rail works welcomed by Fylde MP after ‘generation of neglect’

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has welcomed the start of works to improve rail services on the coast after they were neglected for ‘more than a generation’.

As part of a package of work to upgrade the railway line between Preston and Blackpool, passengers are set to have better, easier access to more reliable train services at a key railway station in the Fylde.

From November 2017, Network Rail will begin work at Kirkham and Wesham station to increase the number of platforms from two to three. Additionally, a new footbridge with lifts to the platforms will be fitted, meaning that step-free access for wheelchair users, families with prams and people with heavy luggage will be provided at the station for the first time.

Collectively, these improvements 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.

Passengers will also benefit from more reliable journeys between Preston and Blackpool due to improvements being made to the track layout at several locations, including Kirkham station. Introducing a third platform at Kirkham will allow trains to run more efficiently between Preston and both Blackpool North and South stations.

Additionally, the old signal box – which controls the movement of trains in and out of the station – will be replaced with a new digital traffic light system operated by Network Rail’s railway operating centre (ROC) in Manchester.

The work that is being delivered forms part of Network Rail’s Upgrade Plan and is part of a wider £1bn-plus investment in the north of England.

MrMenzies 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 & Wesham station, delivered as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, 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.”

The Manchester ROC, operating 24 hours a day, is one of 12 nationally which will eventually control the entire rail network in Britain and replace more than 800 signal boxes and other operational locations. The centre has more advanced signalling tools and technology that will help reduce delays, improve performance, increase capacity, provide better information to passengers and offer better value for money for passengers and taxpayers.

Passengers are being reminded to plan their weekend journeys between Preston and Blackpool as the next phase work to upgrade the railway between Preston and Blackpool gets under way this month.

There will alterations to train services for 10 weekends from 21 January. This means that buses will replace trains between Preston and both Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations.

For more information and advice on how to plan your journey, go to www.nationalrail.co.uk

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