Manchester – Preston – Blackpool Electrification

Lord Adonis, today, put more substance behind the pre-budget statement that seemed to cover electrification of only Manchester – Preston. It now includes Blackpool, which makes more sense.  His statement reads:

”The first line is between Huyton – on the line running from Liverpool to Manchester – and Wigan, on the already electrified West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Liverpool and Wigan via St Helens. The second line is between Manchester and Euxton Junction – just south of Preston on the West Coast Main Line. This will allow electric trains to operate between Manchester and Preston, via Bolton. The third line is between Blackpool North and Preston. This will allow electric trains to operate between Blackpool North and both Liverpool and Manchester.

Our plans envisage that, once electrified, these three lines will be served by thoroughly refurbished electric commuter trains transferred from the Thameslink line. This will increase rail capacity and reliability between key cities and towns in the North West. It will allow 30 year old ‘Pacer’ diesel trains to be retired, and modern diesel trains to be transferred to other routes requiring extra capacity. It will also help to reduce the long-term cost of operating the railway, and reduce carbon emissions.’

Gordon Brown has said he thought the north didn’t get it’s share of infrastructure projects and that this will help against the recession.  I’d agree with that.  Although the line will still have some non-electrified gaps such as the trains to Buxton and to Manchester Airport.  There are also a number of trains that go on the route via Lytham although in general they go to Blackburn. It is a complicated business and a start is needed somewhere.

There is also a timescale to be attached. The closest is that Lord Adonis said a percentage of trains would be electrified by 2017. This doesn’t put a timescale on the Manchester – Preston or Preston – Blackpool work. If cost – benefit is involved it might not happen as the link to Wigan will allow both Manchester and Liverpool to connect to the northbound main line which will reduce the advantages of the work on the route through Bolton to Preston.

If this all happens in a good timescale it is good news. There is part of me saying it has a strong probability of falling to the cuts that are surely going to come who-ever gets into power after the election. Presumably the more you spend more you need to cut, in my world anyway.

This entry was posted in Rail. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Manchester – Preston – Blackpool Electrification

  1. David Sterratt says:

    I use the Edinburgh-Manchester Airport trains to travel from Edinburgh via Preston to Colne quite often, and have often been annoyed at sitting in a noisy DMU _underneath the wires_ for a couple of hours, so this is encouraging news. It’s particularly galling to be in a diseasel when only five years ago there were comfortable Mk2 coaches pulled by Class 87s en route to Birmingham
    And the Virgin trains make me feel (literally) sick, though the Transpennine ones are better.

    I think that the line to Manchester Airport is already electrified, so it is only the Manchester-Euxton Junction link that needs to be electrified. After this, (and Blackpool North), the next obvious electrification step would be Bolton-Clitheroe, and at the same time the ridiculous single line sections between Bolton and Blackburn should be redoubled.

    Dreaming a bit more, as you say, the Lytham-Blackpool South trains go via Blackburn along the East Lancs line to Colne. I’m a member of SELRAP (, who would like to see the 9 mile missing link from Colne to Skipton reopened. (Incidentally, closure of this line was another ridiculous “rationalisation” that would not have happened in certain other English regions.) Anyway, if this line is reopened it would be logical for it and the rest of the East Lancs line to be electrified to join with the Leeds-Skipton electrified section.

    As you also say, the looming cuts might do for even the Manchester-Preston scheme. I’ll put my pipe away now.

  2. Pete of MIP says:

    I’ll have a smoke on that one and the link to your website. Trains used to go to Skipton from Preston and as it’s a popular destination it would be good to re-start it. The journey by rail across the Pennines from Preston is a 2 day job, or it seems like it.

  3. paul says:

    I also feel incredibly frustrated every time I board a Diesel train – a rattly commuter DMU at that – to travel on what are former Intercity routes under the wires. I cant think of another country on earth that would allow this to happen! I hope that when this Electrification is complete, the masts and wires will actually be used to supply Electricity to trains rather than being lineside furniture as existing WCML OHLE is North of Crewe!

  4. Phil says:

    It is a great pleasure to hear of these electrification schemes. What worries me is firstly the outcome of the pending general election and how that will affect this pledge from Lord Adonis. Secondly, by the time that the wires are up, the class 319 emu’s will probably be as old as the bulk of the current DMU’s operating these services are now!

    In my mind, there are two different types of stock require. Firstly, something akin to the 319 / electrostar for the local services, and perhaps medium distance services such as Manchester Airport / Manchester Victoria / Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North, and other services running part of these routes but completely under the wires, for example the serivces from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street, and from Liverpool Lime Street to Warringto Bank Quay.

    For the longer distance services there should be different stock. If you are travelling say from Edingburgh/Glasgow to Manchester I think the class 319 proposal is not a good option becuase, 1) they are drafty with their 1/3 and 2/3 spaced doors and no doors or walls between the door vestibule areas and the seating area, and 2) with only 100mph non tilt capability they will not be making the most of the infrastructure improvements put in place on the West Coast main line, and may even ‘hold up’ pendelinos from Euston – Carlile – Glasgow.

    I would suggest that a tranch of short formation Pendelino (5 or 6 cars)would be suitable – 1)They would be able to keep to maximum track speed causing minium delay and greater capacity on the northern end of the WCML
    2)Journey times would be drastically reduced thus potentially easing more passengers out of their cars / plan journeys
    3)Be in my view a more comfortable experiance than a class 319!

    Could the tranch of small formation Pendelino be negotiated to be an add on to the current order for the extra Full formation Pendelino and extra cars to extend many of the current 9 car pendelino to 11 car, and thus reduce some costs? And if you considered into the bargin the services from Brimingham to Glasgow / Edinburgh for this stock too, it would make for good utilisation for all of the ‘Northern WCML services to be run by these trains. The displaced trains (220/1 Voyegers) could then strengthern other Cross Country services, and Class 185’s strengthening Trans Penine Express Services.

    There would still be a need for the Services between Manchester Airport that go alternate hours to Windermete and Barrow in Furness to be class 185’s but there would be a huge improvement to miles under the wires by non Electric passanger trains!!!

    Rumour has it too, that the class 319’s are promised to make the Paddington – Oxford, Reading, Newbury local services. And if there are spare for the other local services in the NW then they could be used to release the 323’s from the NW to go to the West Midlands to strengthen the servcies there.

  5. Robert says:

    Blackpool south should be included in this.

    may i also remind you that the diesel train between glasgow and birmingham is 100% under the wires.

Comments are closed.