Lancashire’s railway is all set to be “energised” around April 14 as upgrades to the Preston to Blackpool line remain on track.
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Network Rail has said work is progressing well with installing the overhead wires which will power modern electric trains on the 17-mile stretch of track.
Noel Connolly, head of programme management for Network Rail, said: “Work to transform the railway continues to progress at pace.
“The Preston to Blackpool route upgrade forms part of the multibillion pound Great North Rail Project and will deliver greener, quieter and more reliable services for passengers in the north.”
The project has seen new drainage, modern signalling and station upgrades along the line and upgrades on others across the region.
When the power to the overhead lines between Blackpool and Preston is switched on in April, passengers will still have to wait until the timetable change the following month to use the four carriage electric sets which are earmarked for the line.
The new to the line electric trains are due to appear in December.
Full electric running all the way to Manchester is set to return in July after problems in the Bolton area with the foundations of the gantries supporting the wires.The 25-mile Manchester-
Preston stretch had been hit by ‘unexpected running sand and hard rock in the vicinity of old uncharted shallow mine workings’.
Work on the platforms at Blackpool North is moving along, as these photographs from railway vlogger Gordon Head show, and rail bosses expect diesel trains to be back running on the line from March 26, meaning an end to the replacement buses passengers have had to endure since November.
The station is getting new longer platforms for the London-bound Pendolino trains and is set to get improved toilets including disabled and baby change facilities.
Trains returned to the Blackpool South line on January 29 following upgrades.
Network Rail has held a series of information events for the public throughout the project.
The next in Preston is on Monday March 26, from 4 to 7pm 16.00-19.00 at St Walburges Church Hall, on Weston Street.
What is being done now?
In preparation for the re-opening of the rail line later this month, work is currently under way to:
• Commission new signalling equipment to make the railway more reliable
• Finish remodelling the platforms at Blackpool North station to get them ready for trains
• Complete work at Poulton station to get the platforms and canopies ready for electrification equipment
• Complete railway drainage work in the Poulton area to support the new and improved track alignment. Meanwhile, most of the foundations have been laid for the overhead equipment needed for electric trains to run and work will continue over the coming weeks to install the necessary wiring.