Plans to slash the number of train services in Wigan Borough have been labelled ‘catastrophic’ by the Leader of Wigan Council – who fears they may put a block on plans to reinstate Golborne’s railway station.
The plans have been developed by a taskforce, which includes the Department for Transport, who say the proposals are ‘designed to improve service reliability’ following years of under investment in rail infrastructure. But Councillor David Molyneux, Leader of Wigan Council, has warned that all three options would have significant consequences for our borough.
In particular, one proposal sees the hourly fast train service from Cumbria to Manchester Airport via Wigan North Western diverted to run via Bolton instead of running through Golborne. This service was a key factor in building a business case for the reopening of the town’s railway station. Without it, this important project may not go ahead – something Andy Burnham acknowledged in January.
Councillor Molyneux said: “The taskforce was supposed to recommend improvements to rail services, not make an already poor service worse. If approved, these options would have catastrophic consequences for local commuters and businesses and would seriously hamper our aspirations for world class connections that support long-term, sustainable economic growth and access to opportunity for all.”
Proposals to build a new railway station in Golborne – and £15m of funding were approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in January. Speaking about the impact of these proposals on the scheme, Cllr Molyneux said he feared it could now be in jeopardy.
“Residents and politicians have been fighting for a train station in Golborne for years, but these options undermine all that work, with the removal of the airport line detrimental to this particular scheme,” he said.
“The North should have never been put in the position of deciding which services to axe to reach a minimal acceptable level of performance. This is not levelling up; this is another example of the north being left behind.”
The council leader has written to all the borough’s MPs urging them to speak out against the proposals and to explore alternative options. Lisa Nandy MP has already voiced her concerns on the matter, supporting this view.
Have your say before the consultation ends on Wednesday, March 10
A consultation about the plans commenced on Friday 15 January 2021 and will close on Wednesday 10 March 2021. If plans are approved in Spring 2021, changes will be implemented from May 2022.