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Blackpool Branches: Preston – Blackpool & Ormskirk gives you a unique opportunity to experience this classic route from Blackpool North in the West to Preston on the West Coast Main Line in the East and down to Ormskirk during what was the line’s most interesting period with numerous diverse operations.
You can choose between a wide variety of locomotive diagrams, including Express, Local and Regional Passenger, alongside extensive true-to-life freight workings, in locations ranging from suburban and industrial areas to picturesque countryside. Enjoy stunning views of the holiday destination Blackpool, with its popular Pleasure Beach and the dazzling lights of the Blackpool Tower, during the 1986 summer holiday season, although the year-long timetable includes Summer and Illumination Specials and Railtours for you to experience.
The total track length of the route is 48 miles and also included is the secondary single line to Blackpool South from Kirkham & Wesham and the Burn Naze freight branch (formerly known as the Fleetwood line) which runs from Poulton-le-Fylde to Thornton power station.
Developed with period route maps and accurate elevation data, the route boasts a wide variety of iconic signal box designs and an interesting mix of conventional UK colour light and upper-quadrant semaphore signalling in conjunction with single-line and dual-line operations.
The route includes 19 detailed stations. These include Preston, which features the old Mail Bridge connection, and Blackpool North with its eight platforms and a large array of semaphore signals which provide a stark contrast to the run-down Blackpool South. Due south is Ormskirk station, where the end of the line is marked by a train stop as the track literally comes to an end. To the south of the train stop is the northern end of the electrified third-rail track which originates from Liverpool. Also featured are the disused stations at Burn Naze and Thornton for Cleveleys which are available for you to explore. All the stations have a plethora of period-correct clutter and signage to provide the correct mid-1980s atmosphere.
A great variety of route-specific custom assets such as bridges, buildings and track-side features provide a highly immersive environment and ensure that the route is fully recognisable to those who are familiar with it.
The included Class 142 DMU, Class 47/4 diesel locomotive, Class 08 diesel shunter, passenger coaches and TEA tank wagons provide diverse driving experiences via the extensive and complete real-world 24-hour seasonal timetable; this features over 250 authentic drivable services which range from local, express and freight workings to summer extras, shunting operations and numerous AI workings.
The Blackpool North No.2, Salwick and the disused St. Annes signal boxes have accurately modelled interiors from which you can watch the various services drive past.
Also included with the route are tutorials which cover the basic operations of the Class 142, Class 08 and Class 47/4, five scenarios, five types of Collectable in 100 locations for you to find, two Mastery challenges, three Achievements to gain and 24 hours of Journeys to drive. You can also include in the route other compatible add-ons that you own (see the list in the Detailed Description below), making Blackpool Branches a unique driving experience and a true visual treat.
The PDF manual is included with the software but if you'd like to take a look, you can download it here.
48-mile route from the holiday town of Blackpool in the West over to Preston on the West Coast Main Line in the East and down to Ormskirk in the South
Based in 1986
19 highly detailed stations
Class 142 ‘Pacer’ DMU in three liveries
Class 47/4 diesel locomotive in three liveries
Class 08 ‘Gronk’ shunter in two liveries
Mk. 1 BG coaches in four liveries
Mk. 2a FK and TSO coaches in Blue & Grey livery
TEA 100T bogie tank wagons
Training modules covering basic operations for the Class 142, Class 08 and Class 47/4
Five varied scenarios
Five types of Collectable in 100 locations for you to find
Two Mastery challenges
Three Achievements to earn
Route has the ability for you to use other compatible add-ons that you own
24 hours of Journeys
Many unique landmarks and buildings along the route, including the illuminated Blackpool Tower
Signal boxes at Blackpool North No. 2, Salwick and the disused St Annes have modelled interiors you can enter
Extensive, true-to-life, real-world 24-hour summer timetable with over 250 drivable services and numerous AI workings
A mix of conventional UK colour light and upper-quadrant semaphore signalling in conjunction with single-line and dual-line operations
Powered by Dovetail Games’ proprietary SimuGraph vehicle dynamics engine and Unreal Engine 4 technology
Ansdell and Fairhaven
Burn Naze (disused)
Kirkham and Wesham
Midge Hall (disused)
Thornton for Cleveleys (disused)
Class 142 Pacer
BR Provincial Blue
08744 - Wigan TMD
Mk. 1 BG coaches
BR Blue and Grey
BR Blue Express Parcels
BR Blue and Grey Express Parcels
BR Blue Newspapers
Mk. 2a FK and TSO coaches
FK BR Blue and Grey
TSO BR Blue and Grey
TEA 100T bogie tank wagons
Five exciting and varied scenarios are included.
Take control of 1Z09, an illuminated special originating in Bournemouth and hauled by a Class 47 diesel locomotive. Drive the final leg of the tour with 47555 from Preston to Blackpool North.
Severe disruption on the West Coast Main Line has caused heavy delays to all services in the area. One service affected is your trip to Burn Naze, which has been sat stranded near Warrington.
A stranded Pacer needs your assistance. You must rescue this service and help get the South Fylde Branch back up and running again as soon as possible.
Back and Forth
Engineering works are taking place around the Salwick area, which means no services can reach Blackpool North or South. You will run a shuttle service from Preston to Ormskirk and back again.
Put a Gronk on it
Having finished your morning break, you’re ready to get to work shunting various coaching stock rakes around the Blackpool North area.
Compatible add-ons that can be used with the route as of November 2023
If you have any of the add-ons listed below in your Steam library, the Blackpool Branches route timetable will call on the appropriate locomotives and rolling stock from them to allow you to enjoy a fuller timetable experience.
Note: These additional add-ons are not required for the Blackpool Branches route to operate; they are optional add-ons which, if you own them, will give you a more authentic experience.
Tees Valley Line: Darlington – Saltburn-by-the-Sea Route Add-On
(for the Class 101 DMU, Class 37 ‘Tractor’ diesel locomotive and PCA and HEA wagons)
West Cornwall Local: Penzance - St Austell & St Ives Route Add-On
(for the Class 37 ‘Tractor’ diesel locomotive and Seacow and Turbot wagons)
Northern Trans-Pennine: Manchester - Leeds Route Add-On
(for the Class 45 ‘Peak’ diesel locomotive)
Spirit of Steam: Liverpool Lime Street - Crewe Route Add-On
(for the LMS Stanier 8F steam locomotive, Mk1 coaches, 16t mineral wagon and 20t brake van)
BR Heavy Freight Pack Loco Add-On
(for the Class 40 diesel locomotive)
BR Class 31 Loco Add-On
BR Class 20 'Chopper' Loco Add-On
07 November 2023
In this very final Dev Update we feature that much anticipated train that's included in Blackpool Branches: Preston-Blackpool-Ormskirk, the Class 142 Pacer!
What an icon this unit is! Opinions for the real-world unit range from “what an appalling train” to it’s a “Transport icon”. Quite the range of views! Anyway, here is a bit of history behind the class 142:
The British Rail Class 142 Pacer are Diesel Mechanical Multiple Units (DMMU) which were built for British Railways from 1985 to 1987. The class is fairly unique in that they were built to try and keep development and running costs down and so they were based with a high level of commonality with a Leyland-National road bus. For example, they have folding access doors just like many buses. The Class 142 does not have separate bogies and the axles are attached directly to the train chassis which can result in some ‘distinctive’ ride characteristics. The last Class 142 set was withdrawn from UK public service in 2020 however many have been brought by Heritage railways and are still in regular use.
Easy on the eye - Based on actual real-world research, in the sim the Class 142 really does look the part! Featuring three liveries covering BR Provincial Blue, Greater Manchester Orange (including the unique seating material) and the BR Skipper Chocolate and cream.
Easy on your ears - The Pacer has three sound-sets to make music to your ears. You select these by selecting the Pacer by the year shown in the Trains Sim World 4 menu (dates shown below) and the correct sound set will be in use. Here are the options:
1. Leyland TL11 Diesel engine with the RRE5 gearbox (1985-1988). 2. Leyland T11 Diesel Engine with the Voith hydraulic T211r gearbox (1988-1991). 3. Cummins LTA10-R Diesel Engine with the Voith hydraulic T211r gearbox (1993-1996 - onwards).
Listen up! When driving in Service Mode you can operate the Public Address (PA) handset in the cab, and you will hear a set of service announcements. This feature is currently only available for Blackpool Branches and the West Cornwall route add-on.
All change! The changeable destination blinds not only include all the open Blackpool Branches stations but also the key stations for the Northern TransPennine, Tees Valley and West Cornwall Local add-on routes.
Going for a ride…. In the sim the Class 142 uses the updated Train Sim World 4 suspension system which should give you a much more authentic ride feel! Hold on to your hats! Performance-wise we have worked very hard to reflect this as much as possible as the real-world machine.
All aboard! Unlike many other units the Pacer does not have separate doors for the crew to enter the drivers cab, they need to enter through the passenger doors. Getting the door open that you are going to use before your passengers are allowed to board requires a precise procedure which includes unlocking that door from the outside. Be sure to check out the procedure in the comprehensive manual and also it might be an idea to drive the Trains Sim World 4 Class 142 Introduction Training Module.
So we'll be boarding shortly folks. In the meantime enjoy these 142 screenshots and the bonus video that shows the Pacer on the route for the first time.
31 October 2023
Welcome to the penultimate Development Update for Blackpool Branches: Preston - Blackpool & Ormskirk. Today we focus on the Rolling Stock that will be included with the route, although the Class 142 Pacer is not included here. That one is due its own dedicated dev update next week.
The Class 47/4 is fitted with Electric Train Heating Equipment meaning they were best suited to passenger work, though they did occasionally work freight trains too.
The version included with the route is a modified version of the one that is included with the Northern Trans-Pennine route however we have been busy applying various changes that have taken place either in the cab or under the hood, but visually we’ve also added a number of features to breathe extra life into this workhorse of BR.
By 1986 most locomotives on British Rail had been fitted with High Intensity Headlamps on their nose, the Class 47’s were no different with almost all 47/4’s having this feature by the target era of the Blackpool Branches route and so we decided to recreate this in the simulation by adding the lamp to the both ends of the loco, with a switch added in the cab to operate.
The most striking new additions to the Class 47 are two new liveries. Whilst the Northern Trans-Pennine route was set in the midst of the Corporate Blue livery era, the Blackpool Branches route is set in 1986, when sectorisation was beginning. Whilst we’ve spruced up and improved the BR Blue livery, which a number of locos still carried, we’ve also added the BR Large Logo livery and InterCity livery meaning you’ll never know exactly what might turn up! The Large Logo livery and InterCity liveries were still a minority in 1986 compared to BR Blue, particularly InterCity, and as such you’ll find these have less chance of appearing on the Ai services than the standard Blue, just like real life. Of course, if you want to spawn in one of these liveries then you will be able to from the menu or via Free Roam, though they will still make appearances in timetable mode too.
In addition to the livery changes, we’ve also contacted an old friend, Matthew Wilson, who is well known for his nameplate and reskin work in Train Sim Classic. Matt has kindly created 49 nameplates to be carried on our Class 47’s. These add that extra detail to look out for as you’re riding the rails. You’ll never know quite which “namer” might show up! Famous names such as ‘City of Truro’, ‘Fire Fly’ and ‘North Star’ are among those included.
In addition to all of the above, Ed Fisk has carried out a number of further updates, which are among those included in the list below:
-Added light source for high intensity light
-New smoke effect
-Alteration to the timings of the train brake valve
-Improvements to the air brake distributor and loco brake timings
-Made Goods timings work
-Fixed coupler animation
-Added stop on brake valve to prevent accidentally bypassing Emergency into Neutral
-Added air brake sounds
-Added new Brake screech, brake rub, Flange and track run sounds and wiper sounds
-Added subtle light sources to fault lights and gauge lights to aid in night time driving
-Made fault lights indicate dim when normal and bright when a fault is indicated
-Altered how the locomotive loads to aid in starting heavy trains in low adhesion
-Fixed tail lamp appearing underneath the loco -Plated over steam heat vent
-Removed steam heat control and gauges from cab
-Added high intensity switch in cab
-Added covers for marker light at one end
-Fixed wheel blur issue
A modified version of the Heavy Freight Pack Class 08 is also included with the Blackpool Branches route. In 1986 the main functions of Class 08s in the Preston and Blackpool area was the shunting of passenger and parcels/newspaper traffic. At Preston the resident shunter would be used to assist in the movement of parcels and newspaper traffic from the various Parcel Sidings on the West side of the station, this included removing and adding vehicles to trains stopping at Preston. At Blackpool North the “Gronk” (the Class 08s nickname!) carried out a different function, that of station pilot, where it assisted some arriving trains by shunt releasing the train locomotive and taking the coaches into the carriage sidings, this was particularly done when the train had a quick turnaround at the terminus.
Visually you’ll find that the BR Blue paintwork is improved (an iteration of the type put out by Crewe Works at the time) but also, at Preston you’ll find we’ve recreated the resident Class 08 that spent much of 1986 based at the station, 08744 ‘Wigan TMD’. This Wigan Springs Branch allocated loco had been specially spruced up by the depot team and featured a Lancashire Rose and painted name on both bodysides, along with other stand out features such as white paint on the steps among other things. This eye-catching loco will add a bit of extra authenticity at Preston, where it spent much of its time shunting. Once again, we give thanks to Matt for his work providing the decal for Wigan TMD, whilst the other modifications have been carried out by Ed.
This is the list of other changes to the Class 08:
-Alterations to brake timings to bring closer to reality
-Adjusted how the locomotive loads to add further realism
-New smoke effect
-Adjustments to lights
-Representation of 08744 in its 1986 livery
-Representation of a typical livery put out by Crewe Works at the time
Carriage and Tanker stock:
Locomotives aside, the route also includes the Mk1 BG, Mk2 FK, Mk2 TSO and TEA Oil Tanker. Various minor changes have been applied to all of these, the most notable of which are colour matching of the Mk1 and Mk2 vehicles, as well as new Parcels Blue and Newspaper Blue liveries for the Mk1 BG coaches, these will be most evident at Preston.
We hope you agree this latest set of screenshots do a great job of showing the excellent job the team have done on these and the route in general. Enjoy!
17 October 2023
Time for an ATTENTION TO DETAIL Development Update. As the title suggests this one covers some of the amazing attention to detail the Just Trains development team have given to the Preston-Ormskirk & Blackpool route. From atmospheric signal box interiors to detailed trackside equipment there’s a wealth of extra detail added throughout the route to breathe life into the areas that surround the tracks. Below are just a few instances of where we’ve taken time to add in extra visual features to provide a more detailed and immersive experience.
Signal Box Interiors: Three signal box interiors are featured in the route, including the impressive Blackpool North No.2 Signal Box. Blackpool North No.2 box was opened by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1896 and featured 120 levers. In 1986 it was still providing a vital role in controlling not only the arrival and departure of service trains, but also shunt manoeuvres into the busy carriage sidings. This signal box would continue in use until November 2017 when the North line was electrified. Further signal box interiors are included at Salwick and St Annes (Closed). These boxes vary in both size and condition compared to Blackpool North No.2. Looking inside these boxes you will see not only the lever frames but the route map that the box controls plus signalling devices and even old comfy armchairs to help give you the “being there” feeling. These three signal boxes are great locations to pop into and watch the various services blast past.
Lineside equipment: We have spent a lot of time creating and placing a large variety of lineside equipment and railway specific objects in the Blackpool Branches route. Much like our Train Simulator Classic routes we believe that a detailed lineside improves immersion as you drive cross the route. We have created signal cables and point rodding, along with other key features such as loose sleepers, ballast piles, gas bottles and lineside cabinets, all of these provide a wealth of lineside furniture to keep the trackside looking busy, just as in real life.
Varied foliage: Throughout the route you will find that the foliage is extensive, vibrant and varied and importantly, true to life as we could get it as to how it was at each location during the 1980s. From grassy embankments to Rosebay Willow providing a breath of colour at Poulton, you’ll find we’ve taken great care in placing foliage along the entire route, and wherever possible matching it to actual period photographs. Now that’s being authentic!
Clutter: As there’s a general lack of 1980’s clutter available in Train Sim World we decided to go to town and create a whole raft of new custom-built era-specific assets to adorn the lines to Blackpool and Ormskirk. From British Rail posters to the furniture of the Travellers Fare coffee shop at Preston, you will constantly find a new variety of clutter across the route, including a set of brand-new period specific vehicles all placed throughout the route.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach: The Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as it was in 1986, proved a challenging but fun experience for the Just Trains Team to create. We have included the most noticeable rollercoasters as seen from the train, including The Big Dipper, The Grand National and Steeplechase, there’s also a few other items included that could be seen whilst riding along the line to Blackpool South. Whilst The Big One Roller coaster wasn’t built until 1994, you’ll still see be able to see the distinctive skyline made by the Pleasure Beach as you approach the area.
So, those are just a few examples of things to look out for along the route, you’ll find a lot more besides when you load up and take a trip to either Ormskirk or The Fylde Coast! We hope you've enjoyed this update. All the screenshots below represent the various sections listed in the text above.
03 October 2023
Welcome to this latest In-dev update.
Firstly, a name change! Moving forward Blackpool - Preston - Ormskirk will now be known as 'Blackpool Branches: Preston - Blackpool & Ormskirk'. Take note.
So, this update is going to focus on some of the route’s landmarks. The route features a number of notable landmarks, from viaducts to mills and of course the Blackpool Tower. There’s a wide variety of recognisable locations throughout the route and in this development update we take a look at just a few of these magnificent landmarks. Copy for each below and screenshots of each shown at the bottom.
Warbreck Hill Water Tower: Not such a famous landmark, but imposingly visible a long distance before approaching Blackpool North Station, it is a feature that will have you thinking “What is that?!” Well, it’s Warbreck Hill Water Tower! Located on the highest point in the area, 34 metres - 112 feet above sea level, this 1932 built structure stands out well above the rooftops and can be seen on the right when travelling between Layton and Blackpool North, and no doubt will feature in the background of any screenshots captured in these areas.
Blackpool Tower: Certainly the most famous landmark in the route, and one of the most iconic sights in the UK. Blackpool Tower was built in 1894 and at the time it was the tallest structure in the British Empire standing at 158 metres - 518 feet and was unsurprisingly inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In Train Sim World 4® terms you will find, as per real life the tower is visible long before you reach Blackpool, in fact it stands out on the horizon just after you depart Kirkham and Wesham heading towards Poulton! At night, just like the real thing you will find that it shimmers being bathed in light and stands out above the town of Blackpool.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach: Another iconic Blackpool landmark, the Pleasure Beach theme park was opened in 1896 and we have accurately recreated the main attractions within the park during our route year of circa 1986. This means that the “Big One” roller coaster ride does not feature, as it was not built until 1994 but a number of other well-known rollercoasters and rides can be seen, including The Grand National and Big Dipper! It’s worth noting that the station of the same name does not feature on the BPO route as this also did not open until 1987.
St Warlburge’s Church: Standing high above the approach to Preston station is St. Warlburge’s Church, located directly adjacent to where the West Coast Main Line and Blackpool Lines converge. With its spire standing at 94 metres - 308 feet in height, this unmistakable landmark signals you arriving into Preston when approaching from Blackpool as you cross the Maudland Viaduct. The church was completed in 1854 and the railway actually predates it by 16 years!
Preston Ribble Viaduct: This impressive viaduct is located just south of the throat to Preston station and features five arches as it crosses the river Ribble, which is in the course of widening as it heads towards its meeting with the sea on the Fylde Coast. The Ribble Viaduct carries a total of seven tracks, looking south from left to right these are Up Fast, Down Fast, Up Slow, Down Slow and Up Goods. Directly connected to the Ribble Viaduct is a skew girder bridge which carries the Down Goods and a feeder line between North Union Sidings and Preston Ribble Sidings, located a short distance beyond the viaduct itself.
Ainscough’s Mill: Ainscough’s Mill at Burscough is an unmistakable feature marking the arrival into Burscough Junction station. Visible for a good distance when approaching from Preston this mill, built in 1855, stands proudly alongside the Ormskirk Line at the point at which it crosses the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
And here are the respective images for each of the above landmarks. Enjoy!
19 September 2023
Development Update – Timetable
The Blackpool – Preston – Ormskirk route features a very immersive timetable based around 1986 with 221 drivable services (253 if you own all the DLC listed below) and over 150 Ai services.
Locomotive Hauled services
We all know it wouldn’t be British Rail in the 1980’s without having a ton of Locomotive hauled services and so we’ve used the Working Timetable from 1986 along with extensive research to accurately recreate all services (both Ai and player drivable) as they would have been including which locomotives should spawn on these diagrams (for example a Class 31 wouldn’t spawn on a service from London Euston) and length of services (So the West Coast Mainline diagrams are 11 coaches whilst other trains vary from 7 to 10 coaches). You’ll be able to drive these services from Preston to Blackpool and back on services from London Euston, Stranraer Harbour, Sheffield, and other wild and wonderful destinations. Ai services that run up and down the West Coast Main Line (WCML) have also been included along with sleeper trains, so no matter what time it is, Preston should always be busy with the rumble of sounds of Sulzer or English Electric engines. Every single Locomotive hauled service is drivable without any other DLC but if you own any of the DLC listed below you will be able to drive these locomotives on these services as well as see them on AI services:
• Northern TransPennine: Manchester - Leeds Route Add-On for the Class 45 "Peak" Diesel locomotive.
• BR Heavy Freight Pack Add-On for the Class 40 Diesel locomotive.
• BR Class 31 Loco Add-On.
The Blackpool South line had been the stomping ground for DMU’s since at least the 1970’s with most services being formed by Class 104’s and other types of first generation DMU’s. Class 142 Pacers ended up replacing these units on the Blackpool South to Ormskirk diagrams not long after they ended up in the North. Class 142’s also form all DMU services from Manchester Victoria, Leeds and Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North which you’re able to drive from Preston along with these also being on Ai diagrams to Colne. If you own the Class 101 from Tees-Valley you’re able to drive it on all Class 142 diagrams along with seeing it spawn on the Colne and Blackpool North services.
With Kirkham Tip, Kirkham Civil Engineers Sidings, and the Burn Naze I.C.I works still being operational in 1986, freight wasn’t unfamiliar on the line and diagrams serving all have been recreated with appropriate wagons. Also added are Ai services going to Deepdale, Preston Docks as well as services going up and down the WCML with appropriate wagons for the diagrams. To see all the freight services included you will need the DLC listed below:
• Tees Valley Line: Darlington - Saltburn-by-the-Sea Route Add-On for the PCA and HEA wagons along with the Class 37.
• West Cornwall Local: Penzance - St Austell & St Ives Route Add-On for the Seacow and Turbot wagons.
• Spirit of Steam: Liverpool Lime Street - Crewe Route Add-On for the 16t Mineral Wagon and 20t Brake van.
The timetable features a good number of shunting tasks to do with the Class 08 shunters at both Preston and Blackpool. As an example, at Preston you’ll be picking up coaches from one mail train and shunting them onto another, helping keep Britain’s mail go to the right places in the dead of night. At Blackpool you could be shunting the coaches from passenger trains to allow the locomotives to run-round and form services heading back towards Preston.
We’ve created a railtour called ‘The Preston Docker’ which runs between April and May specifically for users who own the Class 20 DLC. Over the 4 hours which this railtour lasts you’ll visit the delights of Blackpool North, Blackpool South, Ormskirk and even Burn-Naze giving players the chance to explore most areas of the route in a unique way. Another railtour that we have created is for owners of the 8F Steam locomotive from Spirit of Steam DLC. This railtour allows you to drive it in passenger service from Preston to Blackpool North and back between January and March. The railtour also includes light engine moves with the 8F to turn the engine around and the 47 which needs to collect the coaches and store them elsewhere whilst the railtour riders enjoy their 6 hours in sunny Blackpool.
Summer Special diagrams are included which run between June and September. Not only is there additional Locomotive hauled diagrams for you to drive but there’s also a few Class 101 diagrams for you to drive if own Tees-Valley which are formed of 6-10 coaches from places like Stoke to Blackpool North which you’re able to drive from Preston. Of course, included is the famous Blackpool Illumination specials which run between October and December to get people to Blackpool before to view the world famous lights with the trains departing just before midnight to whisk them back home.
And to give you an idea of how busy the Timetable is, below is a timelapse video of movements at Preston Station showing a couple of hours of movements in just four minutes. Below the video you'll find some further screenshots to help paint an even clearer picture of what you can expect to see.
We hope you enjoy this update, your next installment will follow in a couple of weeks time. Thanks for reading.
04 September 2023
Development Update - Stations
The Blackpool – Preston – Ormskirk route includes sixteen stations. In this development update we look at six of the key stations on the route and detail their functions in 1986. Here are the key details for the six stations, underneath all of this you'll find a large selection of screenshots covering all of these stations. There are four shots from each and they run in the same order as the stations are listed here.
We hope you enjoy this update and remember to look out for more of these in the coming weeks.
Preston station is approximately half-way between London Euston and Glasgow Central Stations. The current station in the centre of the city was built in 1880 and extended in 1903 and 1913, at which time it had fifteen platforms, by 1986 this had reduced to eight operational platforms but by no means was Preston a quieter station! In 1986, the year our route is set in, Preston featured six through platforms, with two south facing bays, which were used by trains to Ormskirk and Colne, as well as for shunting of parcels coaches. Platform seven in this era was only used by freight trains and was a glorified goods loop with trains often stopping to change crews and sometimes for longer periods of time as they waited for a path on the busy West Coast Main Line. On the west side of Preston station is the Mail Platform which sees little activity in the middle of the day but come the night it is a hive of activity with a stream of mail trains arriving and departing in both directions. Our Class 08 Shunter is kept busy during the overnight period as coaches are added and removed from trains at regular intervals, giving a totally different feel to the route. No matter what time of day you are at Preston you will find something going on, whether it’s a train for the Fylde Coast, a Pacer waiting to head out of the bay platforms for Ormskirk or a heavy steel train passing through on its way from Scotland, you’ll never find yourself waiting more than a couple of minutes for activity at Preston!
Blackpool's main railway station opened in its present form in 1974, replacing the nearby station on Talbot Road which had first opened in 1846 as Blackpool station. It was renamed Blackpool Talbot Road in 1872 and first rebuilt in 1898. When the station was rebuilt in 1898 there was effectively a separate station at the east end of Queen Street with open 'excursion' platforms for summer use. The excursion platform canopy building was refurbished to become the new main station when the old main station buildings, train shed, and platforms were demolished in 1974. In 1986 Blackpool North had become the only major station in the town. With Blackpool Central Station closed in 1964 and Blackpool South station reduced to a single platform in 1985, it was up to Blackpool North to provide sole service to the summer holiday trains that still visited the Lancashire town into the 1980’s. Luckily Blackpool North retained eight platforms following its rationalisation in 1974, however these were never often really used to their maximum capacity but it was still possible on occasions in 1986 to find five or more trains “on the blocks” together. Whilst you will see the regular procession of services from Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations arriving at Blackpool South, you’ll also find several trains to and from London Euston station whilst in the summer a whole raft of extra holiday trains can be found arriving, bringing holidaymakers from places such as the mining town of Castleford and the potteries of Stoke-On-Trent. Much like Preston you’ll find that Blackpool North sees a station pilot in use, though for different reasons, here it will be found performing shunt release moves to the carriage sidings when a quick turnaround is needed. The Carriage Sidings themselves are always worth viewing as you arrive from Preston, they’ll give you an idea of what locomotives will be working out of town during the afternoon/evening period! Rarely will you find these sidings empty in Summer.
The station was originally named Waterloo Road when it opened in 1903. It handled through trains from Manchester, Liverpool, and London until these were all diverted to Blackpool North in 1970. The street-level booking office and waiting rooms were demolished in 1985. By 1986 Blackpool South was a shadow of its former self, gone were the grand buildings, busy through platforms and character of any kind, leaving only a cold and open station with only a bus shelter to provide protection from the unpredictable Fylde weather! Served by direct trains to and from Ormksirk, beginning a journey at Blackpool South will give you the longest through journey on the route, with the 65 minute services to Ormskirk providing a break from the main line activity. Blackpool South, though a terminus by 1986 was, until 1964 a through station with a junction provided to the direct line between Blackpool Central and Kirkham, once this connection was severed and Central station closed then the writing was on the wall for Blackpool South, especially once the holiday traffic reduced.
Kirkham & Wesham:
The station, originally known just as Kirkham, was opened in 1840. it was rebuilt on the other side of the road in 1890 and later renamed Kirkham & Wesham. 1986 finds Kirkham & Wesham providing an intermediate stop for Fylde Coast services, with an island platform in use, and two “fast” lines avoiding the station, most of the services that stop here are stoppers to or from Blackpool, but you will occasionally find longer distance trains stopping at the station. Kirkham & Wesham is around ½ mile from the Kirkham North Junction where the Blackpool South line diverges west, with the Blackpool North line continuing onwards towards Poulton-Le-Fylde. Until 1964 the line to Blackpool Central also diverged here, giving an idea of how busy the line between Kirkham and Preston would have been in steam days!
The original station was about 400 yards north-east of Poulton-le-Fylde’s current location but after a fatal accident in 1893, when a train took a tight curve too fast just north of the station, the tracks were realigned, and the new station built halfway along the new gentler curve. The old station continued to be used as a goods station until 1968. By 1986 Poulton was an intermediate station with most trains calling outside of the summer holiday extra services. This attractive station, accessed from the Breck Road bridge features an island platform with sizeable buildings and canopies, the platforms themselves can accommodate 13 coaches, though by 1986 the section beyond the road bridge wasn’t used, with Euston services the longest to call. Directly beyond Breck Road bridge is the junction for the former line to Fleetwood, which was truncated to only go as far as Burn Naze during the 1970s. This line sees oil trains in the Blackpool – Preston - Ormskirk route timetable and is a pleasant break from the usual hustle and bustle of the passenger lines.
Ormskirk station opened in 1849. The station consists of a single platform, although before the 1963 Beeching Report and the subsequent restructuring of the rail network there were two main through platforms. By 1986 the Ormskirk line, much like the Blackpool South route was singled, with a passing loop at Rufford, though this only saw occasional meeting of trains. Ormskirk itself features a single platform, split in two, as this is where the electrified Merseyrail route from Liverpool terminates, a simple break in the track and a pair of buffer stops signify this point. A connection between the two lines was still provided in 1986 in the form of a loop, though this saw little to no use and would be removed in the years following. Ormskirk sees services roughly every 90 minutes, with trains running through to Blackpool South, though in peak times there are services from the bay platforms at Preston.
22 August 2023
Welcome to the first of a few Development Updates that we'll be bringing you as we edge closer to the release of our inaugural route for TSW4, the wonderful 'Blackpool-Preston-Ormskirk'.
With this initial set of screenshots we look at a variety of areas along our route, showing off the diverse nature of the different branches, from the rural Ormskirk line to the hustle and bustle of Preston, there's a little bit of everything. These screenshots whilst showing mostly complete sections as ever feature In Development work and may not be final.
If you click on any image you'll be greeted with a more detailed description that should prove useful.
Hopefully this introductory update has served to whet the appetite. Look out for regular updates as we head towards the release date.