Blackpool rail route reopens but electrification work hits problems

Work on the platform at Kirkham station
Work on the platform at Kirkham station

Dodgy ground conditions look set to delay the start of  electric trains running on the line between Preston and Manchester, which could have a knock on effect for Blackpool passengers.

Network Rail, already having to cope with the collapse on one of its partners Carillion, now say that uncharted mine workings have meant foundation work for the overhead wires is running late.

Three out of 10 gantry foundations have failed in the Bolton and Chorley areas and the wiring many not now be in place until summer with replacement buses being brought in at weekends.

The news comes as trains return to Blackpool South via St Annes and Lytham for the first time since November when upgrading work began and replacement bus services were introduced.

Hundreds of staff were hard at work at Kirkham station to get things ready for today’s four carriage trains.

Network rail said today that work on the Blackpool North Line was on time with more than 80 per cent of foundations in and roughly 75 per cent of the steelwork put up.

The station has new platforms for Pendolino trains and is set to get improved toilets including disabled and baby change facilities.

Diesel trains are set to return to Blackpool North from March 26 with four carriage electric sets due in May and new to the line electric trains in December.

But full electric running all the way to Manchester is set to be hit. Network Rail said the 25-mile Manchester-Preston stretch has been hit by “unexpected running sand and hard rock in the vicinity of old uncharted shallow mine workings”.

It was due to be finished in May but will take until later in the summer, with additional work at weekends and replacement buses until then.