Preston Station - Past & Present

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2. Project Approval & Planning
3. The Work at Preston
4. Signalling & Power Box Commissioning
5. Electrification, Catenary & Electricity Supply
6. Delays
7. Locomotives
8. Media
9. It's Official!
2. Project Approval & Planning
Project Approval
In April 1968 the Minister was able authorise the route improvement project and the British Railways Board (BRB) invited tenders on two bases with immunisation and without. The original submission by the BRB in April 1968 had a trenchantly worded section entitled 'The Quality of Electrification", to persuade their argument and finally on the 23rd February 1970 electrification was authorised.

The project came complete with a sales and marketing plan and slogans like 'The Electric Scots are Coming' and 'Close your eyes and you're almost there' ready for the launch on the 6th May 1974.


pic1The date is 1971 and here we can see the civil works starting just north of Fishergate Bridge, part of Pitt Street Sidings and the through lines have been removed and the slow lines are now disconnected and rusting (where the red banner is located). Meanwhile the railway continues and all services are using the fast lines and East Lancs. side of the station. This is typical of the project with piecemeal alterations being made as the work progresses.
There were a myriad of items like track alignments, new traction power supply, new signalling, new civil works, and overhead equipment. For example with over head equipment the planning began with a detailed examination to establish which tracks were to be electrified. The heights of all the over bridges were carefully checked to determine which of them would require raising or completely rebuilding to provide head room for the overhead equipment. Wherever possible the railway worked with the highways agency so plans for road re-alignment or widening could be incorporated and where any proposals for new over bridges were planned to ensure sufficient head room was available.

Next the design of power supply equipment was prepared, planning the arrangement of overhead conductors and the position of supporting structures. The location of each individual structure and its foundation along the line had then to be examined and any necessary modifications made.

The design of the over head equipment, in addition to the lineside structures, included supporting assemblies of 'headspan' wires (used to carry the conductor wires where a number of tracks run close together) and cantilever arms (supporting the conductor wires over individual tracks) and the design of the wiring pattern (where the wires actually ran).

Also in the plan were new locomotives, air conditioned coaches with full sound insulation and increased storage space and not forgetting Travellers Fare.

The introduction of electric services coincided with the mid-point of a new approach to railway catering. Travellers Fare took over all services and establishments on stations and trains. More than £5m was spent in a five year program to modernise buffer and restaurant facilities, included modernising the buffer at Preston station along with further improvements to the existing bar.

The work on the project (Weaver Junction to Gretna) started with railway magazine for January 1971 reporting the work would be carried out in 25 phases scheduled for completion mid-1973.

The railway had to continue operating whilst avoiding long occupations, but some weekend working was authorised especially north of Preston where diversionary routes were available. 

In the Preston area the layout was altered piecemeal during 1971-2, the new layouts being connected to the existing mechanical frames on a temporary basis. This reduced traffic disruption though it significantly increased the signalling and telecom departments work-load.