Wires to the Fylde coast

Electrification has reached Blackpool North after a five-month line closure and upgrade programme allowing, among other things, an enhanced London service formed of Virgin ‘Pendolinos’.

THE line to Blackpool North reopened on April 16 after a five-month closure for electrification and resignalling.

Blackpool North was one of the last remaining large terminuses to retain semaphores, but they have been swept away, along with five manual signal boxes between there and Preston, to be replaced by colour lights controlled from Manchester Rail Operations Centre.

The closed boxes are Blackpool North No.2, Carleton Crossing, Poulton, Kirkham North Junction, and Salwick No.2. All are scheduled to be demolished in due course.

It’s just not the same as the semaphores have gone and Blackpool Tower is almost hidden by electrification gantries. However, new through-journeys are now possible, including more direct trains to Euston. Network Rail

The line from Preston to both Blackpool South and North closed on November 11 after the end of the town’s illuminations season.

The initial aim was to complete the work as far as Kirkham & Wesham so that trains could start running to Blackpool South again. This was completed on January 29 allowing the one train per hour service to recommence. Kirkham to Blackpool South via Lytham has not been electrified, so this service continues to be worked by DMUs.

Work between Kirkham and Blackpool North was due to be completed by March 26, but was delayed by the breakdown of critical machinery used to install new overhead line equipment and by the ‘Beast from the East’ snow and bad weather.

The line eventually reopened on April 16 with an initial one train per hour from Blackpool North to Manchester Airport via Preston. This allowed other workings to run empty for crew training ahead of a planned full reopening and new timetable on May 20.

Read more in the June issue of RE – on sale May 18!

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