Blackpool to Preston railway to reopen following major upgrade

The railway between Preston and Blackpool North is set to reopen on 16 April, following 22 weeks of work to upgrade the tracks, station platforms and signalling system.

The upgrading work, part of the multi-billion-pound Great North Rail Project, will see train services between Preston and Blackpool North resume initially with one train per hour allowing time for driver training on the route.

From Monday 16 April, Northern will operate one train per hour between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport - via Preston - and will continue to supplement this with two stopping and two express bus services every hour between Blackpool North and Preston. The hourly service between Blackpool South and Preston will continue to operate but with many services extended to operate to/from Colne.

Also from Monday 16 April, Virgin Trains on the west coast will reinstate its direct service to Blackpool North, which departs London Euston at 16.33. The closure of the line was extended in March to complete the route upgrade following severe weather and the breakdown of critical machinery used to install new overhead line equipment.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “During the closure we’ve worked round-the-clock to upgrade and electrify the line to provide passengers with better services on this important route later this year. This work will allow greener, quieter and more reliable train services to run between Preston and Blackpool North when the new timetable is introduced on 20 May.”

Sharon Keith, Northern regional director, said: “We’re delighted to be able to once again start running trains between Blackpool North and Preston. The electrification work, carried out as part of the Great North Rail Project, will enable us to run greener and more reliable electric trains from Blackpool as part of our May timetable change, giving our customers more comfortable journeys and more journey options.

As part of Blackpool’s rail upgrade Network Rail has rebuilt 11 bridges, remodelled 11 station platforms, replaced 11,000 metres of track, installed 200,000 metres of overhead power line, upgraded railway drainage systems and installed 84 new modern signals.

The brand-new signalling system, controlled from Network Rail’s operating centre in Manchester, will help to reduce delays and improve railway performance. When the railway reopens, upgrade work will continue into spring during overnight shifts when trains aren’t running.

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