Rail firm reveals weekend shutdown plans

Virgin is hoping to resume it's direct service to London once work is complete

Virgin is hoping to resume it's direct service to London once work is complete

Rail passengers travelling between Blackpool and Preston are set to suffer more disruption with Network Rail planning months of weekend closures.

The company is in the early stages of preparing the line for electrification, due to be completed in May 2018.

Last month early morning and late night closures were introduced to allow surveying work to take place along the route.

Those changes forced Virgin Trains to replace the Fylde coast’s only London-bound train with a bus service to Preston.

And now The Gazette has learned Network Rail is planning nearly three months of weekend closures, beginning in January.

No details of train service changes have yet been announced but Network Rail confirmed the dates set aside for the shutdown.

A spokesman said: “The closures will take place every weekend from Saturday January 21 until Sunday April 2 2017.

“Currently, this excludes Saturday 18 and Sunday February 19.”

Network Rail has major plans for the Blackpool route as part of a £1bn package of improvements in the North West.

Wires are being put up on the line between Blackpool North and Preston and Victorian era signals are being replaced.

The number of platforms at Blackpool North is being reduced with others being extended and straightened.

A new platform is also being built at Kirkham where tracks are to be re-aligned to improve speeds. Signalling on the Blackpool South branch is also being replaced.

The work will involve a full 18-week-long shutdown of the line, planned to take place from November 2017.