Blackpool to Preston railway reopened following major upgrade

The railway between Preston and Blackpool North reopened Monday (16 April) following a 22 week closure, which saw VolkerRail, J Murphy & Sons Ltd and Siemens complete upgrade work to the track, stations and signalling systems across the 17 mile route.


This project forms part of Network Rail’s Great North Rail Project and saw the team renew over 11,500 metres of track, install 200,000 metres of overhead line, upgrade 8,000 metres of railway drainage systems and install 84 new modern signals; as part of renewing the signalling system - including the removal of five obsolete signal boxes.

The team have also constructed three new bridges, upgraded Blackpool North and Kirkham and Wesham station and electrified the line, connecting network to the West Coast main line at Preston - the first time in its history.

Over 2,500 people have worked on the project, completing a staggering 1.8million work hours with an accident frequency rate (AFR) of zero. The team were also awarded three Network Rail STAR awards, becoming the first project within Network Rail’s IP programmes to have received three awards.

James Goldsby, project director for VolkerRail said: “The team have worked hard to complete this exemplary project. A blockade of this magnitude requires an immense amount of commitment from all parties and to have achieved such staggering results is testament to the efforts of all involved.”

The closure of the line was extended in March to complete the route upgrade following severe weather.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “During the closure the team worked around-the-clock to upgrade and electrify the line to provide passengers with better services on this important route later this year.

Final upgrade work will continue on the line until spring during overnight shifts, when trains are not running.