Resort rail depot on move

The line to Blackpool North will close for upgrade work
The line to Blackpool North will close for upgrade work

Plans to bring Blackpool’s rail services into the 21st century are moving further down the track.

Network Rail is pressing ahead with plans to electrify the route between Blackpool North and Preston.

The scheme is expected to include a closure of Blackpool’s main station to allow for track and signal works.

And now the company responsible for rail infrastructure has submitted plans to relocate train servicing facilities to Leyland during that period.

Network Rail has submitted detailed proposals to South Ribble Council for the land adjacent to Lancashire Business Park in Centurion Way, Farington.

Included on the site will be sidings for trains, fuelling facilities as well as accommodation for workers, who are expected to be relocated from Blackpool North during the closure.

Train operator Northern, run by German state railway Deutsche Bahn through UK subsidiary Arriva, has worked alongside Network Rail to put together the proposals, aimed at keeping services running.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “As part of preparation for the upgrade of the line between Preston and Blackpool, including electrification, a planning application has been submitted to provide a temporary depot at Leyland.

“If approved, this will mean that trains will be kept overnight at Leyland instead of Blackpool when the Blackpool line is closed for work to take place.

“This will minimise as much as possible the impact that this essential upgrade – which will provide significant long-term benefits to Blackpool – will have in the short-term.

“A planning application has been submitted and we will work with the local authority and Northern throughout this process.”

Network Rail is still hoping to have electrification work on the Blackpool line completed by May 2018.

Preparatory work, including the raising of some bridges along the route has already been completed.

However, the project, part of a scheme to electrify major routes across the North West, has been subject to delays – the latest caused when main contractor Balfour Beatty walked away from the project.

A new contractor, Volker Rail, is taking on the Blackpool scheme and further details of the project are expected to be revealed later this year.

Once completed the work will allow Northern and Virgin Trains to operate electrically powered trains into Blackpool. Northern was unable to say how jobs at the Blackpool depot would be affected by the move