Passengers across the north urged to check before they travel as work increases on the Great North Rail Project: manc preston 1

Monday 18 Dec 2017

Passengers across the north urged to check before they travel as work increases on the Great North Rail Project

Region & Route:
London North Western
North West Central

Work to complete the Manchester-Preston railway upgrade alongside work on other key parts of the Great North Rail Project is continuing in 2018.

From January 2018, Network Rail’s Team Orange will be:

  • Working to complete the upgrade of the 25 mile stretch of track between Manchester and Preston to support the introduction of better trains. The project was due to complete this December but old mine workings, running sand and varying layers of rock have significantly hampered the installation of hundreds of steel columns to carry the power cables for the introduction of electric trains. New engineering solutions have been required by using steel cylinders and filling them with concrete to support poor ground conditions
  • Continuing work to upgrade the line between Blackpool and Preston to support better services
  • Carrying out resignalling on a 16 mile stretch of track between Edge Hill and Winsford to improve reliability
  • Commissioning new platform eight at Liverpool Lime Street and remodel platforms six and nine between Christmas Day and 27 December as part of this major upgrade
  • Delivering signalling and track replacement work in Huddersfield, Stalybridge and Calder Valley to improve reliability of train services
  • Continuing to upgrade track and signalling on the ‘Halton Curve’ that links the Chester/Warrington line and the Liverpool/Crewe line at Frodsham Junction. This will enable a new hourly service, in both directions, between Liverpool and Chester from December 2018.

To allow for engineers to access the railway, sections will need to be closed during weekdays and weekends starting from 6 January 2018. This will affect journeys in and out of Manchester from destinations including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxenholme, Penrith, Lancaster, Preston, Liverpool, Wigan, Chorley and Bolton. There will also likely be further closures when the work is being tested and trains are put in to service.

The work will mean major changes for customers travelling across the north west and into Scotland. Network Rail are currently working hard with train and freight operating companies to finalise full details and will provide further updates as soon as possible

Customers travelling across the North West  are urged to check their journey on for the most up-to-date information.

Route managing director for Network Rail, Martin Frobisher, said: “The Great North Rail Project is a hugely ambitious and challenging programme of work and as with any major upgrades to the railway, there will be disruption to passengers. We do understand their frustration but once sections are completed, passengers across the region will feel the benefits.”

Liam Sumpter, regional director of Northern said: “This upgrade is a vital part of the modernisation of the railway in the north west and will pave the way for our timetable improvements in 2018 and beyond.

“We are working closely with our colleagues at Network Rail to minimise disruption to our customers during these works and to put plans in place to keep people in the area on the move.”

Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director for TransPennine Express said: “This additional work will mean significant changes and disruption to our customers journeys on weekends in the New Year and into spring.

“The changes will affect our routes between Scotland and Manchester Airport and between Liverpool and Manchester. We are advising everyone to take the time to plan their journeys in advance which is important as the changes will differ across each weekend.”

Notes to Editors

Notes to Editors:

Great North Rail Project work

Manchester to Preston upgrade work

Network Rail’s Team Orange is working hard to complete the upgrade of this 25-mile stretch of line, and has now found innovative solutions to manage the poor ground conditions. One such solution involves a steel cylinder being inserted into the ground to act as a support, preventing ground collapse. A big drill then removes the soil from within the steel casing and the cylinder is filled with concrete.

Line closures will allow engineers to safely install overhead wires and connect them to the power supply. Track and signals will also be upgraded.

Dates confirmed for work are weekends from 6 January until Sunday 11 February 2018.

Further dates are likely and updates will be provided once confirmed.

Lineside residents and businesses will be notified in advance of this work taking place.

Transpennine Express services:

Trains between Manchester and Scotland will start and terminate short of Manchester and will be replaced by buses between their terminus destination and Manchester city centre and Manchester Airport.

Northern services:

Trains between Southport and Manchester Airport will divert via the West Coast Mainline, Golborne and Chat Moss running between Wigan – Southport and Oxford Road – Manchester Airport. All other trains between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester via Bolton/Atherton are withdrawn, but a shuttle service will operate between Wigan Wallgate  - Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate – Southport on Saturdays.

An hourly service will operate between Preston and Manchester Piccadilly via the West Coast Mainline, Golborne and Chat Moss, continuing through to/from Manchester Airport as normal. The stopping service between Preston and Manchester Victoria is withdrawn, and the Preston to Hazel Grove/Buxton service will only operate south of Manchester Piccadilly

Direct trains between Clitheroe/Blackburn and Manchester via Darwen and Bolton are also withdrawn. The hourly service between Victoria and Blackburn via Rochdale, Todmorden and Burnley has been extended through to Clitheroe

Buses will operate between Manchester and Wigan/Preston with additional Sunday buses between Manchester and Wigan via Atherton.

Any enquiries regarding Transpennine Express and Northern services, please contact their press office.

Blackpool – Preston upgrade

Between Saturday 11 November and Sunday 28 January 2018 the railway will be completely closed between Preston and Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations to allow major re-signalling, track, platform and electrification work.

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 improvement work will enable greener, quieter and more reliable train journeys in 2018. Bus replacement services will run throughout the closure to keep people on the move.

Liverpool Lime Street

Between 25 and 27 December, platform eight, which was built this year, will be commissioned. Current platform eight will reopen as the new platform nine, while existing platforms six and nine will be taken out of use to remodel them – including lengthening and widening platform six to allow for longer trains. Further signalling upgrades and overhead line equipment installation will also be completed.

Weaver – Wavertree work

Resignalling work will take place over three Sundays (21 & 28 January and 4 February 2018) Easter weekend (31 March & 1 April) and both May bank holidays.

West Yorkshire Signalling Upgrade

Network Rail is undertaking major work to upgrade the signalling system in West Yorkshire between Pudsey, Bradford, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and Shepley. This major investment for the north will see old traditional lineside signalling systems transferred to Network Rail’s state-of-the-art Rail Operating Centre in York. The upgrade will also result in the closure of six signal boxes: Huddersfield and Healey Mills at the end of phase1 (January 2018) and Halifax, Milner Royd, Mill Lane and Hebden Bridge at the end of phase2 (October 2018)

Weekend 21-22 January no services through Huddersfield as we work to transfer signalling technology to York Rail Operating Centre as part of the West Yorkshire Signalling Upgrade.

Halton Curve

Vital track and signalling upgrades will take place over two weekends, 10-11 and 17-18 February 2018, and over Easter bank holiday to allow a new hourly bi-directional service to run over the ‘Halton Curve’ near Frodsham Junction on the Liverpool to Chester line, from December 2018.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Mark Bellew

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