Work continues on the Preston to Bolton and Manchester electrification programme. December 2018 was set as a new target after problems with ground conditions such as old mining works and drifts of soft sand. Pylons for the electric cabling needed to be mounted in metal containers due to soft ground.
Diesels continue to be operated on this section which should be replaced by electric trains when it is complete. It should be noted that train allocation isn’t that simple, trains are exchanged between operators.
As yet Network Rail are still talking about it being complete in December 2018. Although Northern Rail agreed to take handover immediately on the Blackpool upgrade when in reality they needed time to train drivers. Quite likely it won’t make much difference to passenger as a new Winter timetable is about to be issued without knowing if the line will be electrified.