The 19 week programme to electrify the line from Preston to Blackpool North has – it seems – finally been completed, and on 16th April, the new service is now planned to start. The programme was extended by a 3 weeks – and according to Network Rail, the major cause of the delay was the extreme bad weather in March.
So, the project has overrun by 16% – but at least it is now finished. Services to Blackpool stopped on 11th November and were due to restart on the 26th March – in good time for the start of the Easter holidays and the tourist season.
When the delay was announced the MP for Blackpool South was incensed and took the matter up with Norther Rail (the franchisee), and of course in Parliament. The local paper carried a story about the delay:
However, Network Rail has completed:
- Rebuilding 11 bridges
- Remodelling 11 station platforms
- Replacing 11km of track
- Upgrading drainage
- Installing a completely new signalling system, operated entirely from the Manchester ROC
Alongside the changes at Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations, Blackpool train care depot to support the roll out of new Class 331 trains later in 2018.
In the meantime Class 319 units will be relocated from Southern England – good to recycle. But at least one observer has noted that whilst Transpennine run electrified services into Manchester Airport, currently it seems Northern Rail are not planning for this.
Whilst Network Rail are to be congratulated on completing the job – it’s still ‘wait and see’ to find out how the ‘Great Northern Rail Project’ fulfils its declared intentions.