The railway between Preston and Blackpool South reopened as planned today (Monday 29 January) after an 11 week closure to provide passengers with a better, more reliable railway.
The route is being upgraded as part of the multi-billion pound Great North Rail Project to allow greener, quieter and more reliable trains to run.
On 11 November, both lines into Blackpool were shut to allow Team Orange to carry out vital improvements on the railway.
So far, over 11km of track has been upgraded and new, modern signalling equipment installed. Trains running to Blackpool South are now controlled from Network Rail’s rail operating centre in Manchester which is helping reduce delays and keep trains running on time.
Work to upgrade and electrify the railway to Blackpool North will continue into the spring while the remaining overhead equipment, tracks, drainage and signalling equipment is installed.
Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP, said: “I am delighted to see the first section of this vital upgrade complete. This is part of the government’s biggest investment in the network since Victorian times and will mean more seats, better connections, and more reliable journeys for rail passengers.
“We are investing billions of pounds in transport across the region and these changes are what passengers have told us they want to see.”
Chris Montgomery, major project director for Network Rail said: “We are delighted to reopen the railway to Blackpool South this morning marking the completion of the first phase of our Blackpool upgrade work.
“I’d like to thank passengers and our railway neighbours for their continued patience while we work to realise the benefits of the Great North Rail Project in Lancashire.
“This work brings us one step closer to fulfil our aim of enabling a greener, quieter and more reliable railway for passengers in the north west of England.”
Sharon Keith, regional director for Northern, said: “It’s great that we are, once again, able to provide a rail service for our customers in and around Blackpool.
“The modernisation being carried out as part of the Great North Rail Project will transform the rail infrastructure and will enable Northern to provide a better service to customers through improved trains and stations.
“I’d like to personally thank our customers for their patience during the past few months and we now look forward to the re-opening of the Blackpool North line later this year.”
Councillor Fred Jackson, cabinet member for Environmental Services and Highways, said: “We are delighted that this phase of the Great North Rail Project has been completed on time.
“Our town looks forward to welcoming commuters and visitors once again into the town by train and enjoying the wider benefits that will be delivered by this investment once fully completed.”
To keep passengers moving, regular replacement buses will continue to run between Preston and Blackpool North.
An hourly shuttle train service will run between Preston and Blackpool South calling at all intermediate stations.