Historic milestone means Lancashire passengers are a step closer to a better railway: Overhead power lines between Preston and Blackpool being connected to the WCML

Friday 5 Jan 2018

Historic milestone means Lancashire passengers are a step closer to a better railway

London North Western

The railway between Preston and Blackpool has been connected to the West Coast main line by overhead electric wires for the first time in its history.

The milestone was completed over the Christmas period as work continued to upgrade the railway as part of the Great North Rail Project.

Team Orange worked round-the-clock on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install new wiring and electrical equipment that will enable greener, quieter and more reliable trains to travel to Blackpool in 2018.

Blackpool’s railway is undergoing a 19 week revolution to upgrade and electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston. Work ramped up on 11 November and will continue into the spring to install the remaining overhead equipment, realigned tracks and a modern signalling system.

The upgrade equates to a £1,800 investment for every person living in Blackpool.

Noel Connolly, head of programme management for Network Rail, said: “Work to connect new overhead line equipment on the railway to Blackpool was successfully completed over the Christmas period during a planned two day closure on the West Coast main line.

“The upgrade of Blackpool’s railway forms a key part the Great North Rail Project and will help to transform train journeys for passengers in the north.

“I’d like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience while we continue to carry these vital improvements.”

Sharon Keith, regional director for Northern, said: “It’s great to see the work progressing between Preston and Blackpool as the rail industry works in partnership to improve and modernise the railway for customers.

“The work being carried out by Network Rail will pave the way for our brand new and refurbished trains to serve our customers in West Lancashire, providing modern, state-of-the-art rail travel with improved reliability.”

During the 19 week closure, Northern is running a full replacement bus service to keep customers on the move.

Network Rail will carry out vital upgrades to track and platforms at Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations. We are also upgrading the signalling system which includes installing 84 new modern signals which will help to make journeys more reliable.

The upgrade is a key strand of the multi-billion-pound Great North Rail Project, a railway industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the north. The upgrade will make the railway bigger and better to cater for the increased volumes of people forecast to want to use it in future.

During this time the car park at Preston station is expected to be busier than usual. We advise passengers to leave plenty of time if they are planning to use the car park before boarding a train.

To find out more about this work please visit our website at www.networkrail.co.uk/blackpool

Contact information

Passengers / community members
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Network Rail press office -London North Western route
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About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

We are building a better railway for a better Britain.

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