Rail minister Jo Johnson said he was ‘disappointed’ with the delay on work, which was blamed on a ‘combination of bad weather and technical glitches’, including a breakdown on a specialist wiring train – with another wiring train involved in a road smash.
In a letter to his predecessor Paul Maynard, the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, he said 20 shifts of work, based on two shifts a day, had been lost as a result.
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He said: “I shared your disappointment at the news which was circulation by Network Rail ... that the reopening of the Blackpool North-Preston line has been delayed by three weeks.
“About six to eight weeks ago, Network Rail arranged for a supplementary high output wiring train from OCR (Overhead Condition Renewals – an internal Network Rail team) to assist [contractor] Volkers in delivering the wiring requirements for the Blackpool upgrade.
“The project was progressing well until high winds and snow disrupted progress on wiring. Just around that time, unfortunately, there was also a breakdown in a part of the high-output wiring train from OCR.
“The high-output train was being regularly maintained and the breakdown was unexpected. This took the train out of action for five days.
“Subsequently, the existing Volkers wiring train was in a road traffic accident.”