No Electrics Yet
Trains are now running to and from Blackpool North (and South) but on a limited basis with Northern (the Operator) needing to assure train crews are familiar with new signalling and track conditions introduced as part of the winter upgrade work (still to be finally completed). A sample ride to Manchester this past week was certainly reassuringly fast all the way to Preston with one stop at Poulton. The nasty 'Pacers' were nowhere to be seen, but neither were electric trains either.
Blackpool Transport's now embedded rail replacement bus service from Blackpool North Station to Preston Station with the two routes (one via Poulton and Kirkham - and not forgetting Layton) and the other direct on the straight run from Mereside, passing on its way the permanent fracking protest just outside Blackpool - are operating superbly. So much so that other rail replacement operators are taking a close look at the Blackpool Transport model. Below : The rail replacement bus stands by with B&FC smart advertising on view. The view from inside Preston Station of a BTS rail replacement service at the ready to take travellers on to the Fylde coast.
Blackpool North station looks smarter with a fresh coat of paint inside and out but lacks any significant capital investment on the structure and external approach. The retained platform canopy serving two tracks is in a parlous rusting state with bits of the roof missing, roosting pigeons, peeling paintwork and overall decrepit condition. One assumes that the necessary physical repair was not in the original budget of Network Rail and its contractors, given that the original plan was to demolish it entirely leaving the station platforms entirely devoid of any cover. Fortunately local lobbying on the part of the Council and others forced on Network Rail the decision to retain the single canopy 'as is' but without any repair or other improvement to its ailing condition.
The neglected platform canopy at Blackpool North - rusting and failing passengers and the town : Network Rail's legacy.
HM Government Department of Transport - passenger rollling stock at Preston Station:
Preston Station has rail replacement bus services clearly marked until the electric train service is finally introduced - which will be sometime in May/June. Presently only one train an hour runs to Blackpool North with the other services being handled by BTS (efficiently it must be said). A mix of rolling stock was on hand to record at Preston, not that I am now taking up 'train spotting'. Of interest however was a Department of Transport labelled passenger train which had not been cleaned externally for quite some time. I believe this was on the Barrow service. (Above Two images) All photos : John Woodman