Rail services severely disrupted following incident on line
All lines between the two stations, including the West Coast Mainline, were closed for around two hours following the incident.
Virgin Trains warned passengers there could be delays of up to 90 minutes on journeys while emergency services dealt with the collision.
At one point travellers were being advised they could take a detour via Manchester Piccadilly on Northern and Transpennine Express services to avoid the blockage, with both companies accepting Virgin tickets.
Lines re-opened at around 7.15pm, but rail staff said it could take some time to clear the backlog of passengers.
One, who was waiting at Preston for a train to London, tweeted: “Over 1,000 people easy waiting at Preston! Keep getting told to get off trains and go to different platforms.”