Manchester-Preston railway upgrade – final programme of work confirmed

Manchester-Preston railway upgrade – final programme of work confirmed

A wiring train on the Manchester-Preston railway upgrade.(Network Rail Image)

Network Rail today warned train customers of forthcoming disruption as it works to complete its Manchester-Bolton-Preston railway upgrade.

  • Railway upgrade engineers will continue mid-week overnight working and weekend working until Sunday 4 November.
  • The programme includes a nine-day closure of the railway, from 25 August until Sunday 2 September, when buses will replace trains.

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail’s London and North Western route, said:

 “Our Manchester-Preston upgrade is part of the Great North Rail Project, the rail industry’s team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North through track and train improvements.

“I’m sorry for the further short-term disruption that this work will cause, but please don’t lose sight of the long-term improvements which will be delivered. In future electric-powered, greener, faster, more frequent, more spacious, more reliable trains will become the norm through the Bolton corridor.”

Martin added:

 “We recognise the May timetable change resulted in poorer service for many customers than it should have done. We are working together with our train company partners to resolve current issues as soon as possible.”

In early January Network Rail announced delays to its May 2018 deadline to complete its Preston-Manchester upgrade.

This was caused by unforeseen poor ground conditions hampering engineers’ progress installing foundations for masts to carrying overhead power lines.

Delays to progress were compounded by the collapse of Carillion, the lead contractor for the scheme.

With Amey having now replaced Carillion as the main contractor, progress is accelerating. There now only remains three problem foundations  (from a total of 1,659). With 117 masts (from a total of 1,519) still to install.

The Manchester-Bolton-Preston upgrade is over 25 miles of track and is vast in scale. It has involved the widening and rebuilding of Farnworth Tunnel, remodelling of tracks and platforms through Chorley and Bolton stations, the renewal of 13,883m of track, replacement of 93 signals, and the laying of 236,000m of cables.

All passengers who travel through the Bolton corridor are advised to check before they travel on or with their train operator.



•             Network Rail’s Team Orange will be working along the Manchester to Preston Railway every weekend and every available-week night until 4 November. This means there will be no weekend trains through Bolton during this period.

•             On the weekends of 1,8,15,22 & 29 September, TransPennine Express Scarborough/Middlesbrough services will terminate at Manchester, with replacement bus services to Liverpool.

•             While major construction work will be complete by 4 November, snagging work will be carried out from then until 15 February when there will be extended mid-week overnight working -10.45pm-6.45am. TransPennine Express Anglo-Scottish services will terminate at Wigan and Preston during these times.

•             A nine day closure of the railway will take place from 25 August until 2 September, TransPennine Express Scarborough/Middlesbrough service terminates at Manchester, with replacement bus services to Liverpool.

•             Four weeks of electric train testing will take place on 1, 8, 15 and 22 October. This will be done overnight and train services during the day will not be affected.

•             The Great North Rail Project (GNRP) is a multi-billion-pound rail industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North. GNRP includes Northern, TransPennine Express, Rail North, Transport for the North, Network Rail, Department for Transport, Cabinet Office’s Northern Powerhouse department and Rail Delivery Group.

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