Apart from the advancing bridge work which is ongoing at Layton Station reducing traffic to one lane in each direction, with inevitable peak hour traffic holdups - the signs that long awaited electrification is about to reach Blackpool North are now evident. Frequent railway specialist companies with their own trains are becoming a regular sight parked alongside the arrival platforms - and red clad contractors can be seen inspecting all facets of the station's infrastructure.
Whilst it will be some time before crews arrive to start remodelling the existing platform layout which has undesirable curvatures for the new trains which will be running into Blackpool - there is an air of pending change at this most important part of Blackpool's 'Talbot Gateway'. Cutbacks in capital budgets mean that a total makeover of the station structure itself is unlikely - the mooted transport inter-change which would have allowed seamless transfers from trains to buses and the new tramway is hidden in the designer's desk.
Nonetheless, expectation that the Wilkinson property will face demolition to make way for a modern structure which makes allowance for a tram terminal station and associated customer features is excellent news. The local media continue to carry well intentioned protests against the capital costs of the tramway extension from the Promenade up Talbot Road. Everything from limited road usage for private and commercial vehicles to the inevitable complaints of the not inconsiderable taxi owning fraternity are a regular feature week on week. However the die is cast; planning is well advanced; two additional new trams are being ordered to buttress the existing fleet capacity, and all manner of utility diversion and resiting has already begun from Talbot Square up to the station precinct.
Yet a further contractors train is parked up at Blackpool North providing staff space and resources for Network Rail and technical support to work from onsite.
Slightly longer trains for contractors than the compressed rolling stock which Northern make available for their paying customers. Lots of roomy yellow painted former BR coaches parked up today at Blackpool North with a venerable but still impressive diesel locomotive. Images Copyright : John Woodman