Rail service improvements and disruptions


Manchester electrification ‘accelerating’ after Amey takeover, with 9 days of closures ahead

Network Rail will be closing the railway between Manchester and Preston via Bolton for nine days later this year as it seeks to polish off the much-delayed electrification of the line, which has been blamed for the widespread disruptions across the northern network since May’s timetable shake-up.

The infrastructure owner said engineers will continue mid-week overnight working and weekend working until 4 November, but will completely close down the line from 25 August until 2 September, during which buses will replace train services.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for the London and North Western route, apologised for the further short-term disruption that this will cause but asked passengers not to lose sight of the long-term improvements that will be delivered.

“We recognise the May timetable change resulted in poorer service for many customers than it should have done,” he added. “We are working together with our train company partners to resolve current issues as soon as possible.”

In early January, Network Rail announced delays to the original May deadline to complete the Preston-Manchester upgrade, blaming this on “unforeseen poor ground conditions hampering engineers’ progress” when installing foundations for masts carrying overhead power lines.

Delays were further compounded by the widely-reported collapse of Carillion, the scheme’s lead contractor and formerly one of the biggest suppliers in the industry.

Progress is now accelerating after Amey replaced the bankrupt company. There now only remains three problem foundations (from a total of 1,659) with just under 120 masts left to install.

The Manchester-Bolton-Preston upgrade has already involved the widening and rebuilding of Farnworth Tunnel, the remodelling of track and platforms, the renewal of almost 14,000km of track, the replacement of nearly 100 signals and the laying of 236,000m of cables.


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