RAIL campaigners fear passengers could be left in the lurch when plans to make four East Lancashire stations into ‘request stops’ arrive later this year.

The Lancashire Telegraph can reveal that Pleasington, Hapton, Huncoat and Burnley Barracks stations will enter the system from May 14.

But rail users are concerned about how easy it will be to alert train guards about request stops – especially on packed trains or late at nights.

Bosses at Northern Rail said trains would stop automatically at stations where people were waiting to board.

Often guards are seen infrequently on later running services – emerging from train cabs only to operate doors at stations.

Rail users group Passenger Focus said the move was rare, especially in built-up areas.

Stephen Martin, chairman of STELLA (Save the East Lancashire Line Association), said: “There will have to a be a lot more publicity before they introduce this.

“Guards will have to go through the trains all the time because at the moment some of them don’t even check tickets.

“Otherwise the trains are just going to go through these stations and there will be nothing people can do about it.”

Bosses at train operator Northern Rail say the move has been introduced because footfall at the four stations, on the Colne to Blackpool line, is low.

A Northern Rail spokesman said: “This means that customers travelling to these stations just need to let the conductor on the train know where they want to get off and he will arrange for the driver to stop.

The train will automatically stop at those stations where passengers are waiting to board.

“These changes are one of a number of options we have been looking at to make the Blackpool South to Colne services more punctual and efficient for passengers.

“These stations have a very small number of passengers using them and often services are stopping with no one getting on or off, so by introducing request stops we can help improve the reliability for passengers along the whole route.”

Currently the only request stop in East Lancashire is on the Clitheroe to Manchester line at the isolated hamlet of Entwistle, near Darwen.