An electric train has travelled to and from Blackpool for the first time as part of the Great North Railway project.
Operated by Virgin Trains on May 14, the Pendolino train was used to test new infrastructure along the 17 mile route between Blackpool North and Preston, ahead of changes to the timetable.
Team Orange engineers were on hand to check and inspect the route’s new overhead equipment and supervise the train from Preston to Blackpool North and back.
In the last 18 months, Team Orange has installed more than 1,000 steel structures and 200,000m of electric wires. It has also replaced every moving part on the railway between Preston and Blackpool North, improved the track layout, installed a modern signalling system and lengthened platforms at Blackpool North.
To celebrate the train’s first visit to the seaside resort, Virgin Trains has carved out a Pendolino train using sand on Blackpool beach.
Made from two tonnes of sand and 43 buckets of seawater, the 5m length sculpture took more than six hours to build.
Virgin Trains West Coast general manager Michael Stewart said: “At Virgin Trains we wanted to share our excitement as our Pendolino train makes its first trip to Blackpool ahead of the launch of our new electric services to and from Blackpool with a Pendolino sand sculpture.
“We have been proud to serve the seaside resort over the last three years and as we’re investing to deliver additional services we wanted to give a glimpse of what visitors can expect – from our iconic Pendolino trains to the famous Blackpool Tower.”
Former rail minister Paul Maynard, who is the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “The first visit of one of Virgin’s Pendolino trains to Blackpool is a landmark moment and I am very much looking forward to the beginning of passenger service… It is good to see the £255 million investment in our railway being put to good use.”