Railway Line Electrification

Railway Line Electrification

Travellers in and out of Poulton will have already found that over recent weekends there are no trains!! So what is going on?

Many thanks to regular reader and transport enthusiast Barrie C. Woods for this article and the photos about the electrification of the Blackpool line

Network Rail have taken possession of the line between Preston and Blackpool North for ten weekends, with ‘bustitution’ being the necessary alternative for rail travellers.

Diesel engine waits with ballast to be used in works at Poulton. Photo Barrie C Woods
Diesel engine 66547 waits near Garstang Road East over-bridge with a train of ballast for the drainage works which are on-going around Poulton at present

As many of you may well know electrified services are due to commence along our line in 2018. In the meantime many projects are in hand to convert the line to accommodate such services.

Pendolino electric train. Photo Barrie C Woods
Pendolino electric train

Recently the redundant tracks through Poulton have been removed, these are to the south side of the station. Many bridges along the line have been modified or completely rebuilt, the lengthy and most troublesome for locals is the one known locally as Crossleys Bridge over the line at Plymouth Road adjacent to Layton station, which is causing all manner of traffic congestion and diversions. Unfortunately it will be April 2017 before order is restored.

Line Closure

Later this year our railway line will be completely closed for 19 weeks, from November 18th through until March 2018 (although Blackpool South will re-open in January 2018) whilst the signalling system is replaced.

This will include the removal of all the mechanical Semaphore signals between Blackpool North and Preston, as well as those on the Blackpool South to Kirkham line.

All the existing Signalboxes will also be demolished, although I believe the Carleton Crossing box is being donated to the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society. The new lifting barriers to be fitted at the crossing will be operated remotely from a Manchester power Signal box. All existing Semaphore signals and associated operating equipment will also be removed.

Incidentally Blackpool North station has the highest number of Semaphore signals on the whole of the UK rail network. Blackpool North station platforms will be re-aligned and reduced from eight to six. Kirkham & Wesham will have major work carried out with revised platforms and a new footbridge complete with lifts.

Changes at Poulton

At Poulton the tracks will be lowered slightly to allow the electrified overhead catenary to pass through the bridge on Breck Road.

The curving line immediately to the east of the station will be ‘smoothed out’ in an effort to increase line speeds though the station and thus help cut journey times.

Electrification works underway at Poulton railway stationA more general view from Station Road bridge. The yellow digger in the foreground is located where the old platforms used to be.

The station is a listed building, but some alterations within its confines are deemed acceptable, these will include the erection of stanchions for the catenary wires to be supported.

The well–tended gardens will also be removed, but I understand that NetworkRail will reinstate them at some point.

According to NetworkRail the the recently truncated platforms at Poulton (work carried out in 2010) will restrict trains from stopping there as the 11 coach Pendolino electric trains are far too long for the station. So it is likely that very few through trains to London will stop there. The present early morning Euston train (and evening return) will continue as this is a five-car unit, which can be accommodated in the platform.

Poulton railway station, photo Barrie C Woods
Poulton station, with the truncated platform in the foreground, the ‘Through’ lines on the left where the temporary lighting standards are, have been removed. The Poulton Signal box can just be seen through the arch bridge of Breck Road, that, the Fleetwood line crossing and the signals will all disappear.

Digging out by Station Road in Poulton. Photo Barrie C Woods
Digging out the cess alongside the Blackpool line by Station Road in Poulton, the remnants of the old long platforms can be seen under the bridge

Whether selective door opening can be introduced is still under debate but if permissable this would allow the Pendolinos to stop at Poulton.

There is also talk of a new 6-car Pendolino, which again would be able to stop at Poulton, however this option is some years away at present. The curious thing about this is that more people take the train from Poulton than from Blackpool North, so it makes little sense to restrict trains from Poulton. 

Pendolino train seen at Warrington, photo from Barrie C Woods
One of the Pendolino trains at Warrington, the type that will soon arrive at Blackpool (but maybe not at Poulton!)

Line to Fleetwood

The old line to Fleetwood will be truncated at Poulton, by the removal of the crossover and points, thereby isolating the preserved line, which is under the auspices of the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society.

Find out More

Electrification of the Blackpool to Preston railway line

Poulton Railway StationPoulton Railway Station

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