Railway Line Electrification in Poulton

Railway Line Electrification in Poulton

Many thanks to Visit Fylde Coast Contributor and transport enthusiast Barrie C. Woods for this article and photos of the Blackpool Railway Line Electrification.

New Footbridge

Demolition of the footpath fencing at the East end of Holts Lane in Poulton. This occurred on 6th January 2019. Network Rail has lodged a planning application with Wyre Council for a footbridge to be installed at this location.

Holts Crossing. New footbridge planned following electrification of the railway line.
Holts Crossing

In the photo you can see the remnants of the old footpath crossing fencing at Holts Lane which once gave access to and from the industrial site. Note the original stone gate post from a previous era laying on the ground, from this would have hung the level crossing gate. Photo taken on 6th January 2019.

Passage of Pendolino through Poulton, following Railway Line Electrification

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Published May 2018

The widely publicised introduction of Electric Services began on Sunday 20th May 2018. Albeit in a rather faltering way.

Of the two 319 electric Diesel multiple Units (EMUs) due to arrive the previous night only one arrived at the Blackpool North Carriage Sidings.  so already there was only half the number of available trains to kick off service on Sunday.  Despite much of the service being advertised as with the new 319s only very few actually ran.  (I use the term ‘new’ advisedly as the 319s were actually built in the late 1980s!)  In fact due to driver problems with Northern, many of the other services still using the old diesel units were also cancelled and Blackpool Transport was still running a sterling service with its frequent ‘Bustitution’ to Preston and back. The situation gradually improved through the day, but was a real shambles and hardly a glorious start to the new enterprise.

Monday 21st dawned to find the new Blackpool Transport double-deck buses still hard at work plying their trade and helping out Northern Rail.  However more of the planned 319 EMUs were noted and the first Pendolino did arrive, just  one minute late a 09.37. It left at 10.53.  The second arrival was one minute early at 11.50.

Welcome Blackpool Belle

This was Pendolino number 390013 which was duly named ‘Blackpool Belle‘ with much speech giving, with the Town Crier and other local officers attending, the name reviving the holiday trains from the 1930s’.

It left at 13.02.   The final arrival of the day was at 13.29 , seven minutes late, it returned to Euston at 15.05.  In the meantime a number of 319 EMUs were working the line, interspersed with the even older DMUs that we have been used to for many years.

Whilst everything will of course gradually settle down to routine, there are many local residents in Poulton and its surrounding catchment area who are extremely miffed that the new direct service to London will not stop at Poulton-le-Fylde.  So the railway line electrification makes no difference to their travel, which still entails a change at Preston, or travelling first to Blackpool North then coming back through Poulton on the direct London service. Such is progress!!

Have a look at this gallery of photos, all supplied by Barrie C Woods.

Passage of Pendolino through Poulton, following Railway Line Electrification
390027 passes Poulton Station at 13.27, it arrived at Black pool north 9 minutes late. Departure for Euston was on time at 15.05.
The old order at Poulton station on Sunday 20th May with DMUs 156459 heading for Blackpool north and 158752 en-route to Preston.
The first passenger carrying EMU service passes Holts Lane in Poulton st 11.51,made up of 4-car unit 319424.
The same unit returns to Preston, again at Holts Lane at 12.11
The first Pendolino, 390042, passes non-stop through Poulton station at 09.30 heading for Blackpool.
The brand new track laid just west of Poulton. indicating its similarity to the Pleasure Beach roller coaster in this somewhat zoomed in shot!
390042 passes Holts Lane Poulton on its return to the Capital at 11.04
After being named ‘Blackpool Belle’ Pendolino No. 390013 passes Poulton station at 13,12 en-route to Euston.

Documenting Railway Line Electrification – completed May/Spring 2018

Many thanks to Visit Fylde Coast Contributor and transport enthusiast Barrie C. Woods for this article and photos during the electrification of the Blackpool railway line.

Network Rail took possession of the line between Preston and Blackpool North for ten weekends, with ‘bustitution’ being the necessary alternative for rail travellers.

Diesel engine waits with ballast to be used in works at Poulton. Photo Barrie C Woods
Diesel engine 66547 waits near Garstang Road East over-bridge with a train of ballast for the drainage works which are on-going around Poulton at present

As many of you may well know electrified services are due to commence along our line in 2018. In the meantime many projects are in hand to convert the line to accommodate such services.

Pendolino electric train. Photo Barrie C Woods
Pendolino electric train

Recently the redundant tracks through Poulton have been removed, these are to the south side of the station. Many bridges along the line have been modified or completely rebuilt, the lengthy and most troublesome for locals is the one known locally as Crossleys Bridge over the line at Plymouth Road adjacent to Layton station, which is causing all manner of traffic congestion and diversions. Unfortunately it will be April 2017 before order is restored.

Line Closure for Railway Line Electrification

Later this year our railway line will be completely closed for 19 weeks, from November 18th through until March 2018 (although Blackpool South will re-open in January 2018) whilst the signalling system is replaced.

This will include the removal of all the mechanical Semaphore signals between Blackpool North and Preston, as well as those on the Blackpool South to Kirkham line.

All the existing signal boxes will also be demolished, although I believe the Carleton Crossing box is being donated to the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society. The new lifting barriers to be fitted at the crossing will be operated remotely from a Manchester power Signal box. All existing Semaphore signals and associated operating equipment will also be removed.

Incidentally Blackpool North station has the highest number of Semaphore signals on the whole of the UK rail network. Blackpool North station platforms will be re-aligned and reduced from eight to six. Kirkham & Wesham will have major work carried out with revised platforms and a new footbridge complete with lifts.

Changes at Poulton

At Poulton the tracks will be lowered slightly to allow the electrified overhead catenary to pass through the bridge on Breck Road.

The curving line immediately to the east of the station will be ‘smoothed out’ in an effort to increase line speeds though the station and thus help cut journey times.

Electrification works underway at Poulton railway stationA more general view from Station Road bridge. The yellow digger in the foreground is located where the old platforms used to be.

The station is a listed building, but some alterations within its confines are deemed acceptable, these will include the erection of stanchions for the catenary wires to be supported.

The well–tended gardens will also be removed, but I understand that NetworkRail will reinstate them at some point.

According to NetworkRail the the recently truncated platforms at Poulton (work carried out in 2010) will restrict trains from stopping there as the 11 coach Pendolino electric trains are far too long for the station. So it is likely that very few through trains to London will stop there. The present early morning Euston train (and evening return) will continue as this is a five-car unit, which can be accommodated in the platform.

Poulton railway station, photo Barrie C Woods
Poulton station, with the truncated platform in the foreground, the ‘Through’ lines on the left where the temporary lighting standards are, have been removed. The Poulton Signal box can just be seen through the arch bridge of Breck Road, that, the Fleetwood line crossing and the signals will all disappear.

Digging out by Station Road in Poulton. Photo Barrie C Woods
Digging out the cess alongside the Blackpool line by Station Road in Poulton, the remnants of the old long platforms can be seen under the bridge

Whether selective door opening can be introduced is still under debate but if permissible this would allow the Pendolinos to stop at Poulton.

There is also talk of a new 6-car Pendolino, which again would be able to stop at Poulton, however this option is some years away at present. The curious thing about this is that more people take the train from Poulton than from Blackpool North, so it makes little sense to restrict trains from Poulton.

Pendolino train seen at Warrington, photo from Barrie C Woods
One of the Pendolino trains at Warrington, the type that will soon arrive at Blackpool (but maybe not at Poulton!)

Line to Fleetwood

The old line to Fleetwood will be truncated at Poulton, by the removal of the crossover and points, thereby isolating the preserved line, which is under the auspices of the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society.

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