Rail link to London rejected

A proposed direct rail link between Blackpool and London has failed to garner approval from the Office of Rail Regulation.

Virgin TrainsVirgin Trains had announced that it was to reintroduce the route - last seen in 2003 - twice a day before increasing the frequency of the service.

However Network Rail, which operates the line, refused permission saying that the region was already too busy and lacking in punctuality.

Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, and Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South, lead the campaign to give the service the green light, backed by a 5,000-signature Blackpool Gazette petition.

However ORR sided with Network Rail, saying: "There is not currently sufficient space on the line to run all of the additional services. The proposals would have also caused further deterioration in punctuality by adding traffic to what is already a very busy route, on which Network Rail is currently not meeting the punctuality targets it has been funded to deliver.” Virgin promised to continue its battle, whilst ORR added: "Although we are unable to grant access right now, we are putting pressure on Network Rail both to improve its performance and to carry out improvements on the West Coast Main Line so that the question of new services from London to Blackpool can be looked at again as soon as possible.”