With the Plymouth Road bridge now well and truly dismantled and undergoing re-placement, signs of the pending electrification of the railway from Preston to Blackpool's North Station are clearly visible - as well as being felt by Fylde coast motorists corralled into lengthy detours in north south directions.
Rail service between Blackpool North and Preston is being suspended at weekends from the 21st of January onwards. Bus substitution will serve passenger needs sat Poulton and Kirkham. Whether Layton station similarly gets a bus is an open question - we shall see shortly.
Evidence of the considerable work underway to replace the bridge with a much improved (and higher) version can been seen from a distance with the installation of a massive crane needed to safely handle the removal of materials and insertion of new pre-cast sections. Blackpool Transport's Bus Service 9 turns sharply on to Warbreck Hill Road with an interim stop at the top of the hill before continuing its journey along Devonshire Road. In peak hours and at school leaving time the congestion on Devonshire Road requires considerable patience with crawling traffic in both directions from mid afternoon until just after six each evening. So far there is (relatively) patient acceptance of this major diversion with half of the town's drivers praying for fine weather and an early completion of bridge work.
Below : Heavy duty cranage in place used probably after the last trains have passed to install new pre-cast sections. A Northern train can be glimpsed in front of the B & Q business in the top image. B&Q is due to close at the end of January.
The bridge itself (or what exists on January 16) can be seen in the lower photo. The section over the railway is just the embankment inner wall - the roadway itself has been removed.
A further diversion probably much briefer timewise may be needed at Carleton Level Crossing which also sees heavy road traffic in both directions. Installation of overhead power masts and cabling and probable upgrade work on the trackbed is likely to require temporary closure of the crossing. More anon.