Historic moment in Blackpool to Preston rail electrification revolution

The upgrade to the rail link between Blackpool and Preston has passed a major milestone.

Friday, 5th January 2018, 11:40 am
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 11:40 am
A huge track-mounted Kirow crane in Blackpool helping with the alterations on the tracks to Blackpool North as electrification work continues

The stretch of track has been connected to the West Coast main line by overhead electric wires for the first time in its history.

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Giant crane gets Blackpool on track for railway of the future

The feat was achieved over the festive period as workers were in action round the clock on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install new wiring and electrical equipment.

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It is part of a 19-week revolution to upgrade and electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston.

Rails bosses said work ramped up on November 11 and will continue into the spring to install the remaining overhead equipment, realigned tracks and a modern signalling system.

Noel Connolly, head of programme management for Network Rail, said: “Work to connect new overhead line equipment on the railway to Blackpool was successfully completed over the Christmas period during a planned two day closure on the West Coast main line.

“The upgrade of Blackpool’s railway forms a key part the Great North Rail Project and will help to transform train journeys for passengers in the North.

“I’d like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience while we continue to carry these vital improvements.”

Sharon Keith, regional director for Northern, said: “The work being carried out by Network Rail will pave the way for our brand new and refurbished trains to serve our customers in West Lancashire, providing modern, state-of-the-art rail travel with improved reliability.”

During the 19 week closure, Northern is running a replacement bus service for passengers.

Network Rail will also carry out vital upgrades to track and platforms at the Blackpool North and Kirkham and Wesham stations.

Rail travel being transformed

The upgrades on the Fylde coast are a key part of the multi-billion pound Great North Rail Project, which aims to transform train travel across the north.

Rail chiefs say the work will make the railway bigger and better to cater for an expected rise in demand in the years to come.

The lines to both Blackpool North and South have been shut since November 11 as part of the ongoing upgrades.

The Blackpool South route is scheduled to reopen on January 29, while the electrified Blackpool North line is due to be operational from March 26.

Visit www.networkrail.co.uk/blackpool for details.