History made by NWEP team at Blackpool

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 by VolkerRail as part of the Great North Rail Project.

The team worked round-the-clock on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install 2km of new overhead wiring and equipment, electrically connecting the Preston to Blackpool line to the existing rail network, near Preston station.

When operational, this section of electrified track will enable greener, quieter and more reliable trains to travel to Blackpool in 2018.

Blackpool’s railway is currently undergoing a 19 week closure to upgrade and electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston, which began on Sunday 11 November.

To date the team has completed over:

  • 790 overhead line mast and 953 overhead line foundation installations
  • 11,530m track renewals
  • 5,920m of drainage works
  • 12,100m of trough routes

The team will continue its works, on the North West Electrification; Phase 3 Project, into the spring, installing the remaining overhead equipment and realigned track as well as upgrading the signalling system, which includes installing 84 new modern signals; to help 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.

Jim Goldsby, VolkerRail project director said: “The safe completion of this project milestone was a huge achievement which the team should be immensely proud of. Working over Christmas can be difficult but everyone showed such passion to ensure that they helped make history happen on this network.”