Gordon has written to Craig Harrop (Stakeholder Manager of Northern Rail) to raise the issues of signage and disability access when Network Rail begin their weekend closures of the line between Blackpool and Preston.
I write further to my meeting with you and your colleagues from Network Rail in Manchester on October 28 and your emails to me that day following the meeting, and in the light of the weekend closure programme between Blackpool and Preston beginning on the line from this Saturday.
You will recall that I asked at that meeting particularly about capacity of the replacement buses , signage to them at Preston, Blackpool North and South stations and disability access both to and on the replacement buses. I was particularly concerned about these given the unsatisfactory nature of replacement buses and signage that I personally observed at Preston with the closures and replacement buses provided prior to October.
You wrote back to me on the signage and capacity issues in October but I have had no further info from you on the disability aspects.
With this in mind I am writing so you can confirm what checks have been made that the replacement buses you will be providing will all be DDA compliant and how you will monitor that the rafter and to ask what assistance will be given at Preston and at both the Blackpool North and South stations for people with mobility difficulties to board the replacement buses.
I am also asking that you will check with station staff at all those venues to ensure that signage for passengers to the buses at all three stations is clear and large for people coming off trains into Preston or arriving at the Blackpool ones.
I would also be interested to see what instructions or guidance have been given to station staff on these matters . This is in my view extremely important - not least because a number of the passengers using those services will be visitors to Blackpool who may not be familiar with the layout, configuration or pull up places for the replacement buses, and that those staff assisting passengers at the station should be badged and clearly identifiable.
Finally I would be grateful if you could confirm what the frequency of the replacement services will be between Preston and Blackpool North/ South and whether these will be making two or four stops between Preston and Blackpool North, and what the pattern of stops will be between Blackpool South and Preston for the replacement bus services.
I would be very grateful if you could come back to me as soon as possible on these questions, as you will appreciate that both I and my office are likely to continue to be asked questions and for our views views both by constituents and the media over the period the closures and bus replacements.
I will also of course be likely to be using some of those replacement bus services during this period so I will also have the opportunity to monitor how these issues pan out.
Gordon Marsden MP