Blackpool North Station

Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line

£1bn+ was recently invested in the electrification of the Blackpool railway line, greatly improving the railway infrastructure. It means that new electric trains now run between Manchester and Blackpool via Preston. The town of Blackpool is served by five train stations on two lines.

Great North Rail Project in Blackpool and the Fylde Coast

Passengers travelling on the line from Blackpool to  Preston and Manchester, and vice-versa, benefit from better, greener, quieter and more reliable journeys. The improvements will serve passengers for many decades to come and help boost the economy across the north of England.

As part of Blackpool’s rail upgrade Network Rail has:

  • rebuilt 11 bridges,
  • remodelled 11 station platforms,
  • replaced 11,000 metres of track,
  • installed 200,000 metres of overhead power line,
  • upgraded railway drainage systems,
  • installed 84 new modern signals.
Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line

Controlled from the Network Rail operating centre in Manchester the brand new signalling system will help to reduce delays and improve railway performance.

Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations have seen major improvements. Plus those made at the Blackpool depot to support the roll-out of modern trains.

This photo was taken from Sainsbury’s Supermarket in February 2018, looking across Blackpool North station.

Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line, works at Blackpool North in February 2018
Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line, works at Blackpool North in February 2018

Complete Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line

As part of the multi-billion pound Great North Rail Project, the Blackpool lines have reopened following 22 weeks of work to upgrade the tracks, station platforms and signalling system.

On Monday 29th January 2018 train services returned to Blackpool South Station. Train services between Preston and Blackpool North resumed from Monday 16 April 2018. Initially with one train per hour, allowing time for driver training on the route.

Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line - Blackpool North Station
Works at Blackpool North Station

The first Pendolino arrived at Blackpool North station on the evening of 14 May 2018. Operated by Virgin Trains, it tested the new infrastructure along the 17 mile route between Blackpool North and from Preston. It travelled from Preston to Blackpool North and back under the supervision of Network Rail’s Team Orange engineers. They were on hand to check and inspect the route’s new overhead equipment.

Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line
The very first electric train to arrive in Blackpool during the first test on 14 May 2018

Virgin Trains boost services on Blackpool route

Following electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line, Virgin Trains announced a number of new direct rail services between Blackpool and London. Plus a new Saturday service between Birmingham and Blackpool, the first direct link for 15 years. Monday 21 May 2018 saw this historic train arrive.

The new timetable from 21 May sees train operators Northern and Virgin Trains introduce greener, quieter and more reliable trains to and from Blackpool.

The introduction of Pendolino trains between London and Blackpool was hailed a “step change in connectivity” by tourism leaders. The move follows Virgin Trains’ move to reintroduce direct rail services to London in 2014.

First time for Pendolino tilting trains

It’s the first time the long-distance train operator has served Blackpool with its electric-powered tilting Pendolino trains. It follows the completion of Network Rail’s work to electrify the line between Blackpool and Preston. Lengthening platforms at Blackpool North station made them suitable for the longer Pendolino trains to travel to and from the resort.

It can only be good for the leisure market, business tourism and potential inward investment. It brings a real step-change in connectivity for Blackpool and the whole of the Fylde Coast.

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4 thoughts on “Electrification of the Blackpool Railway Line”

  1. Hello! Being a huge fan of Blackpool and your site, and being from Birmingham, I was delighted to read we were finally getting a direct train link. However I’ve been on the National Rail Enquiries website and all the Saturday journeys from Birmingham to Blackpool still show a change at Preston on every Saturday I’ve tried right up until August. Do you have any information if these services have been delayed or cancelled please? I’ve tried from morning to evening and I can’t find any direct route.

    1. Hi Steve, I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to that. Do any other readers? From what I can gather there’s a shortage of trained drivers for the new electric trains, so I would expect that there’ll be a settling in period anyway.

  2. Just read the article on the electrification of the Blackpool railway line. Great news. However just wanted to point out that the image used for a Virgin Pendolino is incorrect. The image shows a non-tilting Virgin Class 800 Azuma which will be used on the East Coast Main Line not the tilting Virgin Class 390 Pendolino which are used on the West Coast Mainline.
    Otherwise a good article and worth a read

    1. Hi Sean, that was pointed out on the Live Blackpool Facebook page! The information came from Virgin without an accompanying photo. I picked one out from their online media library which looked like a Pendolino to me… I’m sure one will be provided in due course! Thanks for your comment though. Glad you enjoyed it! Jane, Live Blackpool

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