Passengers are being thanked for their patience after nine days of upgrade work to make the railway in East Lancashire more reliable and improve future journeys.

The £3.95m Great North Rail Project investment has seen major bridge, track and station repairs carried out on the railway between Accrington and Todmorden, and Blackburn and Colne.

Today (February 24) the railway reopened to passengers on schedule despite the project team battling very challenging weather in recent weeks.

Engineers fought heavy rain and 80mph winds from Storms Ciara and Dennis during the project, which saw:

  • A railway bridge removed and a new one craned into place over the Leeds & Liverpool canal at Oswaldtwistle, with new track installed above
  • Another railway bridge over the canal being strengthened at Rose Grove
  • 300m of new drainage installed at Rose Grove
  • Track improvements at Townley and Gannow Junction
  • New glazing installed in Nelson station’s platform canopies

Kathryn Berry, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “We're very grateful to passengers and Northern staff for bearing with us while sections of the East Lancashire railway were closed for improvements between 15-23 February. 

“Despite the cold, wet and windy weather conditions thrown at us, we safely delivered a £3.95m package of improvements to two canal over bridges, as well as track and drainage upgrades in the Burnley area. 

“Passengers can look forward to safer and more reliable journeys to Preston, Blackpool, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester for decades to come.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, said: “It’s great to see the line back open for business and the fantastic improvements made by colleagues at Network Rail.

“The extent of the work may not be obvious to our customers, but there is little doubt that the effort of the team, who battled horrific conditions, will benefit rail travellers in the area for many years.”

To enable equipment and materials to be safely moved from the project sites, the canal towpath by Accrington Golf Club will stay closed until Friday, March 13, and at Rose Grove until March 6.