Preston Station - Past & Present

Mike would like to hear from anyone involved with the remodelling and resignalling of the station and surrounding area to aid historical research for future documentation, please contact via the Feedback page.

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!
The remodelling of Preston station came on the back of the West Coast main line electrification. But electrification north of Crewe was not a given and an extended debate was undertaken to establish if electrification was indeed the way forward or if diesel traction could be reliably used.

Prior to the electrification reaching Preston regular daily timings of six hours for the 401 miles between London and Glasgow, started in May 1970 with diesels taking over from the electrics at Crewe.

These timings were then eclipsed by the 1974 times of five hours for the 'Royal Scot' with electric traction throughout.

Whilst on the 22nd September 2006 Virgin Trains driver Russell Southworth took the record further for a Glasgow London time of 3hrs 58 minutes.

The basis of electrification thinking was formed some years earlier and fortunately formed part of the backbone of the overall plan.

In 1932 a government committee recommended that future main line electrification projects should use 1,500v dc for overhead systems and 750 v dc for conductor rail systems. Two schemes were started using 1,500 volts between Liverpool Street and Shenfield and the lines linking Manchester-Sheffield -Wath, but war halted the work and they were only completed in 1949 and 1954 respectively.

After the war a new system for overhead electrification emerged, developed by the French railways it used 25,000v ac and the British transport commission then planning large scale main line electrification projects investigated its potential.

It concluded the cost of installation and power supply would be cheaper and that electric locomotives using 25,000 v ac would give superior performance.

Having obtained permission from the government the commission began to install the 25kv ac system between London, the West Midlands, Liverpool and Manchester. The work began in 1957 and by September 1960 the line from Manchester to Crewe was opened. In January 1962 work was completed on the Liverpool Crewe route and in the next three years was extended south to London, completing in November 1965. A new timetable was launched in 1966 and the following year electric services were enlarged to cover the West Midlands.

To extend the system north the budget as recommend for acceptance to the government was: Route Improvements Electrification to the route Partial Immunisation of subsidiary lines New and optional Electric Locomotives Giving a total of £54.6m

To explain 'Partial immunisation' this was protection of signalling circuits from false operation by induced voltages from the 25kv traction supply. The partial factor was the distance along subsidiary line that this was effective, which was typically half a mile.

pic1This photograph by David Ford shows the old order at Preston, during the early days of the remodelling. Class 50's either singly or more usually double headed were the norm for Anglo Scottish services. This locomotive at the south end of the former platform 6, now platform 4 would generally be changed for electric traction at Crewe.