Mark Menzies lodges Restoring Your Railway bid for South Fylde line

Fylde MP Mark Menzies and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton have lodged a full Restoring Your Railway bid to double train services on the South Fylde line.

The MPs joined forces to put together the bid for a passing loop on the line, which would allow for a service between Preston and Blackpool South every 30 minutes.

The scheme was lodged with the full support of Northern Rail, Rail North, Transport for the North, Lancashire County, Blackpool and Fylde councils, as well as passenger, community rail, and business groups.

Mr Menzies said: “Ever since I was elected as Fylde MP I have called for a passing loop on this line. It is vital we improve services to make this line viable for commuters and students to use. For too long we have been short-changed on our railway.

“Too many services have been running late and too many are cancelled. The potential of a two-hour wait between trains means many people will not even consider using the line.”

Mr Benton added: “On top of the three per cent of services that were cancelled, we have some 173 services in the past 12 months which turned back to Preston early and did not reach Squires Gate, Blackpool Pleasure Beach or Blackpool South.

“That is the equivalent of the loss of nine and a half days’ services. We must have a better rail system to give people in Blackpool South the opportunity to work and learn further afield.”

The bid involves laying around three miles of track between Lytham and St Annes stations, the creation of a new rail platform at Ansdell and Fairhaven Station, the installation of signalling along the line, and potential platform changes at Preston Station. There is scope for improvements to St Annes and Lytham Stations, should Network Rail decide it would rather include those stations within the passing loop – but that would be decided further along the process.

Three feasibility studies have been carried out on the line to highlight the need for improved services.

Mr Benton said: “We need to move people away from a reliance on cars, and improved rail infrastructure and services to the Fylde coast are a must. There should be hundreds of thousands of tourists arriving in Blackpool South by rail every year, but we see a fraction of that.”

Mr Menzies added: “We must have better infrastructure to get people to and from our coastal communities, to make sure people can access the fantastic restaurants, shops and service businesses in the heart of our communities.”

Rail lines were improved between Preston and Kirkham during the electrification of the Blackpool North line, however the line remains a single track, classified as a ‘long siding’ between Kirkham and Blackpool South, limiting train services to one per hour.