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NR reopens one of final Manchester-Preston electrification bridges four months late

One of the final bridges set to be rebuilt as part of electrification works between Manchester and Preston reopened yesterday (15 October).

It was shut on 27 July to be rebuilt in order to provide clearance for overhead lines which will power electric trains.

Bolton Council also resurfaced the road while it was closed.

The bridge, on Grimeford Lane, Blackrod, was originally scheduled to reopen on 12 June at the point when Network Rail kicked off the rebuilding programme. This date was then pushed to 16 November, meaning that, theoretically, it is now ahead of schedule.

Brendan McNeill, operations manager for the work’s contractor, J Murphy & Sons, said: “The hard work and professionalism of everyone involved has enabled the work to be completed safely and quickly.

“There is never a good time to close roads but we did all we could to minimise the impact.”

In the last two years, Network Rail rebuilt 15 road bridges and four footbridges on the line between Manchester and Preston via Bolton as part of the programme, as well as demolishing one bridge which is no longer used and rebuilding the River Chor Aqueduct in Chorley.

Aisling Wall, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “I would like to thank residents and motorists for their patience while we have completed this work which is part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a better railway for passengers.

“It will allow faster, greener and more frequent services to operate, and we did all we could to complete the work as safely and quickly as possible.”

Network Rail also worked closely with Bolton Council to complete the works with minimal disruption.

The rebuilt bridge, along with the others on the line, will not need any major works for over 100 years.

In August, RTM revealed that all programmes in the north west electrification timetable were being re-examined, although Network Rail said it was doing everything it could to deliver the Manchester-Preston electrification by December 2016.

A key part of the line’s electrification is Farnworth Tunnel, on which RTM has reported extensively. Despite the tunnel boring work being ahead of schedule in August, it quickly surfaced that works would actually be pushed back until December.

Work on enlarging the tunnel was originally due to be completed by 5 October, but engineers came across “exceptionally poor ground conditions” and large swathes of sand that significantly delayed the job.


Rayk   20/10/2015 at 12:36

What a confused report. It is full of conflicting details and inaccuracies which raise many questions. Was it really closed six weeks after it was originally set to reopen? This suggests the programme was re-planned. Looking back at your own report from 27th January it is clear that the rebuild was re-timed for four and a half months later than first intended. So far from the claims of your headline this bridge was completed in less time than originally allowed for. Revamping means putting a fresh front on. This is a far cry from complete rebuilding. Your headline is fit only for the gutter press. If you wish to be regarded as a serious reporting body then you must report seriously and accurately.

RTM   20/10/2015 at 13:03

Hi Rayk, We have amended the word revamped in the article. However, when you refer to our report from 27 January there is no indication that the rebuild would be re-timed later than expected. The work was originally planned to be complete on 12 June, but the project was revised by Network Rail until November after our original report. But to complete work a month ahead of a revised schedule still means it was delivered later than originally planned.

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