Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Preston on Tuesday the 7th May 1974 to unveil a plaque on the new platform 4 at Preston the half
way point between London and Glasgow, which bears testament to the
complex project encompassing so much civil engineering, technology,
innovation and planning that made it all happen.
The party then went on a royal ‘Trip’ working to the Preston
Power box, where a small temporary platform had been erected.
It may seem that economics drive everything today but some things
never change, here is a quote from the Railway Gazette April 1970:
Main line electrification in Britain has suffered a year gap in
continuity of work because the early 25Kv 50c/s schemes were too
expensive compared with diesel traction. To get authority for the
extension from Weaver Junction to Glasgow, it was necessary to refine
designs and pare away unnecessary frills to the point where the real
cost of electrification was virtually halved.
Because their job depended on it, BR’s electric traction
engineers have moved a long way from the days when every track
sectioning cabin between London and Southend had to have a lavatory
(often at inordinate cost) for the benefit of the maintenance men
making routine fortnightly visits.
I think it is fair to say that the electrification and
re-signalling revitalised the railways in this area, especially for
business travel. Had the electrification not happened and diesel
traction being the only option the quality of service would certainly
have been different.
It is also interesting to note that right from the outset that
Blackpool to Manchester was identified as requiring electrification as
the next major project, but we will need to wait and see if that does
in fact happen.