Boss's promise as railway line shuts

One of the signal boxes which will be replaced

Railway engineers will work round the clock to ensure the upgrade of the line between Blackpool and Preston is finished on time, the scheme’s senior manager has pledged.

A 19-week renovation programme to electrify the line begins on Saturday and will see services suspended.

Andy Morgan, Network Rail’s senior scheme sponsor for Blackpool to Preston electrification, said: “We will be working 24/7 for that 19 week period to get the upgrade done.

“Construction projects never go 100 per cent as you would expect, but we have contingency plans built into the programme.

“So we’re confident by March 25 the work we have planned to complete, will be complete.”

The routes between Blackpool North and South and Preston will be closed until January 28 next year. The Blackpool North to Preston line will stay shut until Sunday, March 25.

Following electrification Network Rail says services will be more reliable, able to carry more passengers, and be more environmentally friendly.

Mr Morgan said: “This particular route is largely Victorian infrastructure which we are replacing in order to provide a more reliable service with cleaner, greener trains.”

The project includes remodelling platforms at Blackpool North and Kirkham and Wesham stations.

The signalling will be upgraded, with 84 new signals being installed. At the same time work to repair railway bridges at Harrowside and Squires Gate is being done.

Mr Morgan added: “Closing the line for 19 weeks allows the council to come in and repair those bridges without causing further disruption to the railway.

“There is never a good time to close a railway for this amount of time but we have worked with Blackpool Council and local businesses to determine the best time without affecting the tourism industry.”

During the closure, replacement buses will be provided along the routes.

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