Work to upgrade the railway line between Blackpool and Preston has been delayed by three weeks - meaning services will be hit over Easter.
Network Rail has blamed bad weather and the breakdown of its own engineering train for the delay which means services will not resume until April 16. Services had been due to recommence on Monday March 26 after being suspended on November 11 last year for work to electrify the line between Blackpool North and Preston. A rail replacement bus service which has been running since then, will continue, and trains are running on the Blackpool South line. There will be some further work on the railway after April 16, but this is not expected to disrupt train services.
Andrew Morgan, senior sponsor for Network Rail, said: “While we’ve made fantastic progress in upgrading the line over the last six months, the recent bad weather and unexpected maintenance of critical machinery has hampered us slotting in final pieces of this important jigsaw, at one of the busiest times of the closure.“
“We continue to thank Northern and their customers for bearing with us. We are working around the clock to get train services back moving again from April 16.”
Sharon Keith, Northern regional director, said: “It’s disappointing to experience delays to the engineering work at Blackpool, but we continue to work in partnership with our colleagues in Network Rail to deliver the upgrades our customers want and deserve.”
Rail users and tourism leaders said the delay was a blow.Paul Nettleton, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association, said: “This will be a big disappointment.
“The excuses for the delay are a bit feeble. There has been bad weather but we haven’t had it as bad as other parts of the country, and I’m sure they have more than one engineering train.”
“It is a pain for commuters and visitors to have get off a train and onto a bus to reach Blackpool, but people can still travel via Blackpool South.”