Network Rail has released further details of the programme that will see the 17 miles of rail between Blackpool and Preston closed for up to 18 weeks later this year, and announced that Ashton-under-Lyne station is to be closed for three weeks in July.
The projects are part of the Great North Rail project, a £1bn scheme that is part of Network Rail’s national railway upgrade plan. Last week, it was announced that Liverpool Lime Street will close for three weeks in October to undergo works.
The track between Blackpool and Preston has already been the recipient of signalling, drainage and track realignment improvements in the last year, but to carry out the bulk of the work required to fully electrify the route, a full closure is required.
The project also includes works at Blackpool North station, with the number of platforms reduced from eight to six. At Kirkham & Wesham, a third platform will be added. Bus services will run between Blackpool and Preston during the works.
A drop-in session will be held at Blackpool North on Tuesday 27 June from 2pm.
Ashton-under-Lyne will be closed between Saturday 8 July and Sunday 31 July while the railway bridge over Turner Lane is rebuilt and two miles of track are realigned and replaced. Northern services will be replaced by buses between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge. The connection between Stalybridge and Manchester Piccadilly will be unaffected.
Nick Brown, Network Rail’s project manager, said: “The railway corridor on which Ashton station sits is currently narrow with many curves, which restricts the speed that trains can travel. Replacing the bridge deck and realigning the track will result in smoother and straighter track, meaning trains will be able to travel faster which, in the long run, means more frequent services on the route.”