Major milestone for Blackpool to Preston rail link

The railway between Preston and Blackpool has been connected to the West Coast main line by overhead electric wires for the first time in its history.

The milestone was completed over the Christmas period as work continued to upgrade the railway as part of the Great North Rail Project.

A team worked round-the-clock on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install new wiring and electrical equipment that will enable greener, quieter and more reliable trains to travel to Blackpool in 2018.

Blackpool’s railway is undergoing a 19 week revolution to upgrade and electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston. Work ramped up on 11 November and will continue into the spring to install the remaining overhead equipment, realigned tracks and a modern signalling system.

The upgrade equates to a £1,800 investment for every person living in Blackpool.

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: “It’s great to see the work progressing between Preston and Blackpool as the rail industry works in partnership to improve and modernise the railway for customers.

“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 full replacement bus service.