Network Rail has confirmed the final programme of work on the line between Manchester and Preston.
Part of the organisation’s wider Great North Rail Project, the upgrade of this line was meant to be completed by May 2018. However, there have been a number of unforeseen circumstances that have put paid to that particular deadline.
Work had to be delayed because there were a set of poor ground conditions that have particularly hampered engineers in their bid to make significant progress on the scheme, as it meant they were unable to install foundations for the masts to carry overhead power lines.
The upgrade between Manchester and Preston is vast in scale, comprising of 25 miles of track. Once complete, the development will have remodelled tracks and platforms at two stations in the region, the widening and rebuild of a tunnel, and renewal of thousands of metres of track.
In total, almost 14,000 metres of track have been renewed, 93 signals replaced and 236,000 metres of cables have been laid.
Network Rail’s latest update has confirmed that midweek overnight work and weekend work will continue until November and, for nine days from 25 August, the railway will be completely closed.
The collapse of Carillion has proved to be a major obstacle to completion of the scheme, as the fallen contractor was the main contractor for this project.
It is one of a number of fallouts seen after the liquidation of the company. However, Amey replaced Carillion on the scheme as its principle contractor and now, only three problem foundations remain – from a total of 1,659, and there remains a further 117 masts to install from a total of 1,519.
Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London and North Western route, apologised for the disruption.
He said: “Our Manchester-Preston upgrade is part of the Great North Rail Project, the rail industry’s team effort to transform train travel for customers across the north through track and train improvements.
“I’m sorry for the further short term disruption that this work will cause, but please don’t lose sight of the long term improvements which will be delivered.
“In future, electric-powered, greener, faster, more frequent, more spacious, more reliable trains will become the norm through the Bolton corridor.”