On the wrong track

Leyland Train station
Leyland Train station
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Commuters claim rail officials are on the wrong tracks, after news that yet another railway station is set for a multi-million pound makeover while Leyland is left behind.

Regular users of Leyland train station say the facility is a “terrible advert for the town”.

And they spoke of their fears after bosses at FirstGroup, which is set to take over the running of the West Coast mainline at the end of this year, said they plan to invest in Preston station.

Preston is one of the stations the company will run under the franchise – but Leyland station will still be run by Northern.

John Ellwood, who lives in Carnforth, regularly passes through the town and was outraged by the state of the station.

He said: “I was disappointed to see much of the disuse and some of the in-use platform areas covered in weeds and the garden areas are unkempt. The stairs and bridge need painting. Northern Rail should be ashamed. The borough council should be ashamed.

“I guess Northern has no interest in aesthetic appeal but, because it is the part of the town that most people see, I would have expected that others, for example, South Ribble Council, would make some effort to make the station more attractive.”

But despite the concerns, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for commuters.

Network Rail spokesman Keith Lumley said: “Under the terms of the West Coast franchise award, FirstGroup will be responsible for the same stations that Virgin currently are, but will take on additional responsibility for upkeep.

“While this includes Preston and several others, it does not include Leyland, which is managed by Northern, so Leyland will not benefit from the new franchise.

“However, there is good news for passengers.

“We have completed a study of the options for providing step-free access to the station and platforms. This will involve building a new footbridge, three lifts and staircases linking all the platforms. “

Coun Margaret Smith, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “I am delighted Network Rail is submitting a funding bid to the Department for Transport for a major scheme to improve access.

“We have been working with our partners, Network Rail, Lancashire County Council and Northern Rail, on this project for nearly four years, and everyone is behind it.

“Leyland will be competing against bids from other stations, so we’ll be doing all we can to ensure it is successful.

“We work closely with Northern Rail we will do anything to help with the station but they are responsible for the upkeep.

A spokeswoman for Northern Rail said: “We have worked very closely with industry partners to attract investment to what was specified to be a ‘steady-state’ franchise with no funding available for trains or station improvements.

“We are in the early stages of planning further improvements to Leyland station as we are keen to improve facilities for passengers.”

What do you think of the state of Leyland train station? Contact the Guardian on guardian.newsdesk@lep.co.uk