Blackpool without train service is a rare experience as overruns on completion of electrification on the Preston to Blackpool line mean a delay to the original timetable. Instead April 16th is now given as the drop dead date for trains to again run in to Blackpool North (and Poulton and Layton). A frenetic scene greets bus passengers en route into the centre along Talbot Road with all manner of equipment and activity on the station approach. All of the overhead masts have been erected but electric wiring has yet to be completed among other essential infrastructural work.
Blackpool's buses will thus continue on their rail replacement duties for nearly three more weeks, along with contracted coach operators. Just how this impacts on the holiday weekend visitor numbers remains to be seen but naturally there are plenty of 'woe is us' sentiments abounding from traders and hoteliers.
Talbot Road itself is in the process of being cleared of barriers and utility work which have seen this important artery closed to traffic for the past month. Removal and the realignment of water mains, electric supplies and other utilities away from the intended path of the tram extension. This will require complete removal of roadway and foundations to provide a wholly new underpinning for the double track line (and junction) from the Promenade at Talbot Square and onto the site of the current Wilko property set to be demolished entirely this coming winter. Below : a barren streetscape looking towards Dickson Road where the bus is turning. Road barriers are being cleared to free up traffic over the coming weeks.
Below : a poignant glimpse of the double track which formerly carried trams from Talbot Square as far as Layton Cemetery. New double tracks will replace the historic tramway embedded under the entire roadway from Talbot Square.
A pretty grim sight greets visitors and residents traversing Talbot Road from North Staion - with temporary paving and filled in trenches where utilities have been redirected. In several cases this has meant unearthing the first generation tramway tracks which also followed more or less the same path as the intended new line. The promenade tramway already has pointwork installed for a double track junction which leads into Talbot Square - and it will be more than interesting to see this finally connected to its intended new street track.
For the moment there is much upheaval in this part of town, not helped by the shuttered shop fronts and neglected property frontage along what was one a vibrant and prosperous retail area. No more. Below : quite a hands on publicity campaign is a feature of the extended upgrade work which brings overhead electric power to trains arriving at Blackpool North - and in tandem further overhead electric wires to be erected along Talbot Road to the station precinct (well almost) for the new tram service.
A covey of Blackpool Transport buses on rail replacement service pirouette around the station forecourt providing a frequent shuttle to Preston Station.