One week in and Blackpool’s five-month railway revolution is already delivering for local people.
Since mobilising on 11 November Network Rail’s Team Orange has:
removed the tracks at Blackpool North station
demolished old platforms to make way for straighter platforms with an improved layout
decommissioned five signal boxes
started building a new platform at Kirkham and Wesham station and improving drainage
started working round the clock to install overhead power lines so electric trains can run
positioned 24 engineering trains along the route to support the upgrade
Meanwhile Northern is running a full replacement bus service to keep customers on the move while the railway is closed.
The 19-week project to upgrade and electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston, which started on Saturday 11 November, equates to a £1,800 investment for every person living in Blackpool
It is a key strand of the multi-billion-pound Great North Rail Project, a railway industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North. The upgrade will make the railway bigger and better to cater for the increased volumes of people forecast to want to use it in future.
Over the remaining 18 weeks Network Rail engineers will carry out vital upgrades to track and platforms at Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations. The signalling on both lines into Blackpool will be upgraded. This includes installing 84 new signals to make journeys more reliable.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s London North Western route managing director, said: “We have made a great start to this phase of the Great North Rail Project. I am confident the short-term pain will be worth the long-term gain of transformed train travel in future.”
Sharon Keith, regional director at Northern, said: “This upgrade will pave the way for further improvements for our customers who, in the future, will benefit from brand new or fully refurbished electric trains – resulting in better journeys and, through our modernisation plan, better stations.”
Peter Broadley, executive director for customer, operations and safety at Virgin Trains on the west coast, said: “We know that upgrade works can impact on people’s travel plans. These particular works are being carried out by Network Rail to upgrade the railway between Preston and Blackpool. We have worked closely with Network Rail and industry partners to ensure alternative travel arrangements are in place. Customers travelling between London Euston and Blackpool should plan their journey in advance and check the National Rail enquiries website before travelling.”
Between Saturday 11 November and Sunday 28 January 2018 the railway will be completely closed between Preston and Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations.
Between Monday 29 January 2018 and Sunday 25 March 2018 the railway between Preston and Blackpool South will reopen but the railway between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool North will remain closed.
The upgrade forms part of the Great North Rail Project to improve journeys between Blackpool and Preston and across the north of England.