Rail travel continues to draw attention in the north with yet further announcements that a fleet of shiny new trains are due for delivery during 2018 - from Zaragoza, Spain. Replacements for some (probably not all) of the overworked life expired workhorses on England's northern rail services - the 'Pacers'. Zaragoza has a smart new light rail system which won prizes at the 2017 Light Rail Awards. It was also home to Spain's last tram building company supplying stylish four axle double ended cars for service in that city - alongside secondhand London Transport trolleybuses in the 1960s.
Preston Station is all too familiar with the 'Pacers' spewing out foul diesel fumes as they begin their journeys out of the enclosed station arch. The station is also now hosting shoals of smart new BTS buses on their shuttle journeys between Blackpool North and Preston. Having sampled the journey on a recent visit to Manchester (by train) I must admit the organisation and efficiency of the direct route which omits stops at Layton, Poulton and Kirkham and Wesham stations - is remarkably smooth and effective. The slower service which takes in those four station stops understandably is a tad more extended timewise.
The intended Virgin London to Blackpool (or is it the other way round) service due to begin this year is causing flutters through apparent non stop through the Fylde from Blackpool North, omitting stops at Kirkham and Poulton. Changes to platforms at Poulton (shortened) and Kirkham and Wesham (lengthened) are cause for current criticism of Network Rail, Virgin Trains and other interested Parties. At least Blackpool North's newly straightened platform layout boasts retention of its single canopy following concerted pressure from Blackpool Council among others.
Blackpool arrivals at the unloading stop outside Blackpool North Station. While Below : Blackpool Departures outside Preston Station on rail replacement services.
A grim February morning says it all. Meanwhile on Platform 5 inside - passengers for Colne (and eventually Skipton?) await their departure on the 0900 from Preston on a less than attractive ride pretending to be a train in a modern European economy in the 21st Century.
Great station venue -pity about the rolling stock. I wonder much it costs to lease a Pacer ?