Rail Electrification

More closures planned for Manchester to Preston railway

The railway between Manchester, Bolton, and Preston will close for nine days in late August and early September as Network Rail looks to complete electrification works that are already running months behind schedule.

Electrification works on the line were originally planned to complete in December, but the timetable has slipped, which Network Rail blamed on the collapse of contractor Carillion and “unforeseen poor ground conditions”.

Carillion originally replaced contractor Balfour Beatty on the electrification of the line in 2015, after the latter contractor said it would not be able to complete the project “on time and on budget”.

Although initially works were expected to complete by May, Network Rail has now said works will continue on the line until November this year. Contractor Amey has since taken over from Carillion to deliver the project, and Network Rail said “progress is accelerating” on the scheme.

A closure between 25 August and 2 September is planned, where buses will replace trains, and mid-week overnight working and weekend working will also continue until 4 November.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London and North Western route, said: “I’m sorry for the further short-term disruption that this work will cause, but please don’t lose sight of the long-term improvements which will be delivered. In future electric-powered, greener, faster, more frequent, more spacious, more reliable trains will become the norm through the Bolton corridor”.

“We recognise the May timetable change resulted in poorer service for many customers than it should have done.

“We are working together with our train company partners to resolve current issues as soon as possible.”

The announcement comes as two of the region’s Metro Mayors, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, slammed Network Rail as “not fit for purpose” earlier this week.

Speaking at Place North West’s Northern Transport Summit, Rotheram criticised the organisation’s “opaque and unaccountable structure,” while Burnham called for Network Rail to be “held to account” by Transport for the North, rather than by central Government.

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