A MAJOR rail route will be closed for six weeks as the track inside a tunnel is lowered.

Chorley Tunnel is to be upgraded to an electrified railway in an investment costing tens of millions of pounds.

To complete the work the line between Chorley and Leyland, via Chorley Tunnel, will be closed from Saturday, July 19 to Sunday, August 31 while the upgrades take place.

This will mean no through trains to Preston or Manchester will pass through the town.

The track through the 113-metre tunnel will be lowered to accommodate overhead line equipment, which will power electric trains between Manchester and Preston from December 2016.

Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “More than £1billion of investment is being made to provide a better railway and boost the economy across the north of England.

“Significant engineering is required to lower the track and install the electrification equipment and there is no other option but to close the line while this is carried out.

“The closure has been carefully planned so that it is kept to a minimum and we are working closely with the train operators regarding amended services and disruption.

“I apologise for any inconvenience caused and advise passengers to plan their journeys and check with National Rail Enquiries before travelling.”

It is planned during the closure to reinstate the Grade II-listed Chorley Flying Arches, which were removed in the summer of 2008.

Services between Manchester Piccadilly and Blackpool North are diverted between Bolton and Preston and will not call at Horwich Parkway, Chorley and Buckshaw Parkway.

On Saturdays and Sundays, passengers will use Northern Rail replacement buses between Bolton and Preston Midweek, buses will run between Bolton and Preston calling at Horwich Parkway and Chorley only.

Passengers to and from Buckshaw Parkway should use Northern Rail replacement buses.