Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Can you get a Ticket to (Park &) Ride?

Posted in Business, Customer service, Great Britain by Chairman Pip on 5 February 2011

I’ve just returned from the “Vegas of the North”, having spent a week up there. Before you say anything, yes, I know we’re still in winter, and Blackpool is more well known for its attractions in the summer, but there was a purpose – West Ham were away to Blackpool on Wednesday, and I had never been to Bloomfield Road. So, it was an opportunity to get away somewhere for a week. Of course though, that isn’t what I write on here about, because this is Chairman Pip’s railway thoughts, and so I have some. You’re probably aware that the town’s main railway station is Blackpool North, which is an eight platform terminus that is fairly close to the centre of the town. However, although a number of bus routes pass close to it, few of them stop at the station (as far as I could see), while it is estimated to be a half-mile walk to the Tramway. However, as it is reasonably close to the town centre, walking distances between the town’s main attractions are not all that great, so it is less of a major deal that if it were a more suburban area. Which brings me to Blackpool’s other terminal station, Blackpool South. Unlike Blackpool North, this is a single platform station at the end of a single track line that runs along the coast through Lytham St. Annes and up past the Pleasure Beach. But, this is the point – this single track branch serves the suburban end of Blackpool, Royal Lytham St. Anne’s Golf Course, Blackpool International Airport, the Pleasure Beach, Bloomfield Road, and has fairly close interchanges with the tramway. So, given all of this, why is there only a single track branch with one train per hour serving all of this? On top of this, there are significant local transport links around Blackpool South, with several bus routes operated by both Blackpool Transport and Stagecoach, not to mention a massive car park, presumably built to serve the Pleasure Beach. But this was almost totally empty while I was up there, an almighty waste of space as it is. So, why has this area around Blackpool South station not been contemplated as redevelopment as a transport hub – rail services could be increased from the one train an hour, either through running a shuttle service between Blackpool South and the junction at Kirkham & Wesham that could then connect with the main services from Blackpool North, or through converting the line to light rail and integrating it with the tramway, while the car park could be used for park & ride to connect with both the railway station, the buses and (with a short walk) the tram. This would then provide a potential economic boost by improving the transport links between the centre of the town and the outer areas, and the north and south of the town. This, combined with the competition to implement the direct service to London (between Alliance Rail, Grand Central and the new West Coast franchise), could be a boon to the economic prospects of Blackpool, an area that needs a windfall that goes beyond the seasonal tourist trade.

Map of the south Blackpool area, showing Blackpool South and the large car park

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