Preston to Blackpool North

Better rail journeys across the north of England are coming – we're upgrading this key route, paving the way for more reliable journeys with more space for passengers

Changes to train services: 11 November 2017 - 15 April 2018

PROJECT UPDATE: Blackpool North line to reopen on Monday 16 April

Snow, wind and ice from the ‘Beast from the East’ combining with Storm Emma off the Atlantic is one of the main factors that has caused the long-awaited resumption of train services to be pushed back three weeks. An essential engineering train required for delivering the upgrade also needed unplanned maintenance.

To keep customers moving, Northern will continue to operate a regular bus replacement service between Preston and Blackpool North until Monday 16 April when trains will resume once again.

What's happening?

We are upgrading the railway between Preston and Blackpool as part of a multi-billion pound investment in the north to deliver cleaner, quieter and more reliable journeys in 2018.

Blackpool’s railway upgrade has involved rebuilding 11 bridges, remodelling 11 station platforms, replacing 11km of track, upgrading railway drainage and installing 84 new modern signals. It has seen major improvements delivered at Blackpool North station, Kirkham & Wesham station, as well as at Blackpool train care depot to support the roll out of modern trains across the region from later this year.

While the railway is running, lifts will be completed at Kirkham & Wesham station in the next few weeks, making it fully accessible.

A brand new signalling system, controlled from Network Rail’s operating centre in Manchester, will help to reduce delays and improve railway performance. Passengers are urged to check before they travel at

The 17 mile route between Preston and Blackpool North will be fully electrified paving the way for better trains with more seats.

The 17 mile route between Preston and Blackpool North will be fully electrified paving the way for better trains with more seats. We’re also improving the track layout and modernising signalling equipment to reduce delays and improve performance.

Work includes the replacement of 84 signals and moving the signalling control to the Manchester rail operating centre. Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations will be remodelled as part of our plans to simplify the current layout of the railway.

The Great North Rail Project isn’t just about rail

We are working to deliver modern, faster, more frequent and more comfortable train services across one of the largest rail networks in the country.

When the work is complete, we’ll have done more for the North than just laying tracks.

We’ll be creating new jobs, and connecting more people to more jobs. We’re closing the gaps between major cities. Making not only travel, but also trade, easier throughout the North. The work we’re doing will make the region more desirable. For investment. For business. For everyone.

Why we're upgrading

In 2018 modern, greener, cleaner and quieter trains will run between Blackpool and Preston. The upgrade tackles overcrowding and reduces running costs, as well as providing a reliable and sustainable railway for generations to come.

To upgrade the railway, we have to carry out the following engineering work:

  • Upgrading bridges and structures.
  • Strengthening railway embankments.
  • Assessing level crossings.
  • Clearing overgrown vegetation.
  • Installing masts and wires.
  • Install a new modern signalling system.
  • Improving the track layout at several locations
  • Upgrading key sections of the railway track.

We’re carrying out ecological surveys and environmental impact assessments to minimise impact on the natural environment. Any protected species or nesting birds are relocated where necessary.

When the work's done you'll benefit from

  • More reliable services

Improvements to the track and signalling reduces delays of trains running in and out of Blackpool.

  • More seats

The modern trains will be more spacious than the current ones. So, there’s more seating space available for passengers on each service.

  • Smoother journeys

Modern trains running on an improved railway makes journeys smoother and quieter. So, your journey will be more comfortable.

  • Greener trains

The modern trains will create lower carbon emissions in comparison to the current trains.

This helps to improve air quality in pollution hot spots and makes it cleaner and quieter for people living near the railway.


Keeping you moving

Our improvement work has been planned to affect rail transport in and out of Blackpool as little as possible and we are committed to keeping passengers moving.

Changes to train services: 11 November 2017 – 15 April 2018

As part of our Great North Rail Project, we’re improving rail journeys on the Blackpool to Preston line. We are temporarily closing the line to deliver quieter and more reliable journeys from 2018, alongside investment in better journeys right across the region.

  • 11 November 2017 – 28 January 2018: Preston to Blackpool North and South closed.
  • 29 January 2018 – 15 April 2018: Route to Blackpool South reopens – Preston to Blackpool North remains closed.
  • 16 April 2018: Trains running to both Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations.

During the closure, regular buses will replace trains so please check before you travel and allow extra time for your journey. Please note that the pick-up and drop-off points for bus replacement services are clearly signposted at each station along the route.

For further information about bus replacement timetables visit National Rail Enquiries.

Keeping you informed

Being a considerate neighbour

Some of the work required to electrify the railway can be disruptive to local residents and businesses.


We held information events at various locations throughout 2017 along the route, giving our neighbours the opportunity to meet our project team and to find out about the next phase of work.

Events will continue throughout December and into Spring 2018:

  • Tuesday 20 March 16:00-19:00 at Poulton Civic Centre, Breck Road, Poulton-le-Fylde, FY6 7PU
  • Monday 26 March 16:00-19:00 at St Walburges Church Hall, Weston St, Preston PR2 2QE

To keep the railway moving, we try to cause the least disruption to train services. And for safety reasons, we do most of the improvement work over night, or during carefully planned closures of the railway. Plus, we want to minimise the impact our work has on our neighbours. If we’re planning work close to your property we will write to you to let you know.

Disruptions may include:

  • Noise from engineering trains and railway vehicles.
  • Temporary flood lighting and head torches.
  • Safety alarm sounds to indicate reversing vehicles.
  • Engineering work including digging, moving railway stone and other heavy materials.
  • Noise from installing piled foundations, for the masts and gantries that will carry electrified wires along the railway.

The appearance of the railway and surrounding area changes with this upgrade too. Steel masts run along the railway to support the overhead power lines. We try to put these in places that cause the least visual impact to our neighbours.

Download our leaflet to find out more.