Anyone from Preston heading to Manchester on the train for the weekend faces the dreaded words ‘replacement bus’ for most of 2018.Advertisement
Work to electrify the line between Manchester Piccadilly and Preston has fallen further behind schedule – now due to finish in the Autumn as opposed to May.
Network Rail says ‘poor ground conditions’ in the Bolton and Chorley area means they need to close the railway at weekends on this line.
More than 200 pillars are still to be installed on the 25-mile route.
Part of the £1billion Great Northern Rail Project it means the first trains to run on the upgraded line will be in December.
Weekday services are unaffected by the works.
Read more: Work begins on major upgrade of Blackpool-Preston rail line
Route managing director of the London North Western Route for Network Rail Martin Frobisher said: “While we are disappointed to miss our May 2018 target on the Manchester-Preston upgrade, it is important we view this within the full context of the Great North Rail Project. The ultimate prize for customers is 2020 when Network Rail’s current GNRP upgrades are fully complete.
“Customers in the North are already benefiting including from faster, electric services between Liverpool and Manchester and from Manchester Airport to Glasgow. There is far more to come in future, including better Manchester-Preston services.”
Video footage has been posted by Network Rail of the ground conditions they face while drilling to put in the foundations for the steel columns for the overhead power lines.
An example of the poor ground conditions we face on the Man-Preston upgrade. Three out of every 10 foundations have been unsuccessful at first attempt. Work will be finished by autumn meaning there will be some changes to weekend services. Please check before you travel. pic.twitter.com/v0rhqt2SQH
— The GNRP (@TheGNRP) January 12, 2018
Service planning director for TransPennine Express said: “It is disappointing that this complex project will now take longer to complete. We are working closely with Network Rail and other train operating companies to minimise disruption for our customers while the upgrade is concluded and to deliver our planned service improvements as soon as possible.”
More frequent services are expected once the upgrade is complete as TransPennine Express puts more of its Scottish services through the line.
The upgrade was already running around six months behind schedule due to the emergency repairs needed at the Moses Gate bridge last year after it was damaged by a burst water main.
Trains between Preston and Manchester via Wigan North Western are still due to run on weekends.
Anyone planning to use trains on the weekends is asked to check before they travel with National Rail.
Do you use the trains between Preston and Manchester? What do you think about the rail line works? Do you use weekend trains? Let us know in the comments below