Hopes of rail plan solution

Wigan Wallgate Station

Wigan Wallgate Station

Commuters protesting against controversial rail changes affecting Wigan have been handed a boost courtesy of their MPs.

Wigan and Makerfield counterparts Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue met with new rail minister Paul Maynard this week and are hopeful a solution can be found.

They told the Evening Post the minister “was left in no doubt” about the level of public anger about proposed changes that will stop the Southport to Manchester route stopping at Piccadilly.

Thousands of service users have signed a petition against the plans and had demanded a re-think with Arriva proposing to have the service via Wigan Wallgate run to Manchester Victoria.

Mr Maynard is said to have told his department to find a solution, a move that Ms Fovargue and Ms Nandy described as a positive step.

Ms Fovargue said: ““Wigan Passengers value a direct train service and resent the current proposals that improve services for other areas at their expense.

“I am not prepared to allow my constituents to be treated so poorly and the minister was left in no doubt at the meeting as to the strength of feeling that exists.

“I am pleased that the minister instructed his officials to find a solution and we will continue to pressure the Department for Transport and Arriva to deliver a direct service.”

The plan to end the direct link to Piccadilly in December 2017 – routing all trains on the line to Manchester Victoria – was formally announced by train operator Arriva after it took over the Northern rail franchise in April this year.

The borough pair were joined at this meeting by West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper (Labour) and John Pugh, who represents the Southport constituency for the Liberal Democrats. Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “The rail minister was left in no doubt about the level of public danger these proposals have caused.

“Many passengers who rely on this line to get to work have already had to put up with increased fares and overcrowding. Now they are told they may lose the direct service altogether. Passengers have been ignored all the way through this process.

“They have now been heard and we will ensure their concerns are addressed by the government”.