AN architectural wonder has returned to the railway between Chorley and Leyland with the historic ‘Flying Arches’ re-introduced after eight years.

The line has also re-opened following a six-week closure to carry out improvements as part of Network Rail’s investment in the railway.

The work was to allow electric trains to operate between Manchester and Preston from December 2016.

The track through the 113m long Chorley tunnel has been lowered so it can accommodate the overhead line equipment which will power the trains.

As well as upgrading the tunnel the 16 historic Chorley flying arches – Grade II listed structures on the approach to the tunnel which are the only remaining examples on the British rail network – were refurbished following close work and consultation with English Heritage.

The arches had been removed during previous engineering works with Network Rail having an obligation to put them back.

Significant work is also ongoing to rebuild bridges at Harpers Lane, Chorley, Railway Road, Adlington and as well as the River Chor aqueduct.

The closure of the railway since mid-July has proved testing for hundreds of commuters with no trains between Chorley and Preston and a severely reduced service to Manchester and Bolton.

Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “Electrification forms a significant part of this and the completed work though Chorley means the line is now ready to install the equipment needed to run electric trains.

“It was a significant engineering challenge to lower the track and as well as rebuilding bridges we have also returned the historic Chorley flying arches to their former glory.”

Chris Nutton, programme director said, "We are delighted that the improvement works in and around Chorley have been delivered on time and without delay.

"We have worked extremely hard with Network Rail and Northern Rail to keep customers moving and have provided accurate and update to date information throughout.”