A NEW drive is being launched to establish a continental-style public transport hub in the centre of Wigan.
The rail-user group being set up this week aims to support passengers using the Northern Trains services between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester, as well as local train services from the town to Bolton.
It is being founded because of fears that the £37m electrification of the Wigan North Western Station-Bolton line, approved at Christmas, could lead to the downgrading of the importance of the rail route from Wallgate to Salford Crescent via Atherton.
The group is also becoming increasingly concerned by the high levels of overcrowding on Wigan/Manchester trains because of the success of the drive to lure commuters out of their cars and onto trains.
At the heart of the campaign - to be called Along the Right Lines, Northern Communities Together - will be a push to revive a long-cherished dream for a combined road, bus and car Wigan Transport Hub interchange based on former sidings land between the two existing Wigan stations currently occupied by the Xercise4Less gym (formerly the MFI furniture warehouse) to be accessed from Chapel Lane.
The group also wants operator Northern to rename the Wallgate/Salford Crescent route “The Lowry line” as a way of promoting train services.
It will also campaign for the opening of a new station at Dobbs Brow which has potential for Leigh and Tyldesley passengers, as well as for a Friends group to adopt Atherton station.
The group, which will hold its first meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday at Westhoughton’s Hope Community in Central Drive, hopes to attract support from existing transport organisations, including community rail groups, friends of the stations and station adopters such as that at Hindley, plus Wigan passengers.
The group will have a non-party-political ethos, with a brief to campaign for better rail services and borough rail users a “better say” in organisation of the commuter services many now depend on.
The aim is to encourage support from councils and councillors, transport and rail operators, as well as Transport for Greater Manchester and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.
The Right Lines group is looking for financial support, help and suggestions from those who would like to get involved.
Campaign spokesman Derek Bullock said: “A new local community transport campaign is underway that covers the 2 lines that link Wigan-Manchester via Atherton/Bolton.
“Our major aim is the creation of a new combined ‘rail-hub’ at Wigan and we are currently putting proposals for this together and the obvious positive repercussions for Wigan.”
FURTHER details from chairman Preva Crossley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Derek Bullock at email@example.com