An electric train has run between Manchester and Preston via Bolton for the first time.

This marks the latest milestone in the Great North Rail Project, the rail industry’s joint programme to transform train travel for customers through track and train upgrades.

Last night (13 December) an electric train was used to test the new infrastructure along the 25-mile route via Salford, Bolton and Chorley.

The train was closely monitored by Network Rail engineers checking the new overhead power lines.

This week’s test runs are the first of two phases to check new electrical infrastructure works correctly. The second, in early January, will check the infrastructure can handle faster train speeds for improved passenger journey times.

The Manchester-Preston upgrade will give Northern and TransPennine Express customers faster and more comfortable journeys as a new fleet of electric trains replace old Pacer trains.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London and North Western route said: “This challenging upgrade has been really disruptive for passengers and our train operating partners who use this route. We’re sorry for this.

“I would like to thank local people for their patience, and I hope this milestone reassures them the end is in sight.”