ANGER is growing over delays to long-awaited works at a Wigan railway station.
A programme to upgrade the low platforms at unstaffed Bryn Station has been put back despite fears for disabled and elderly passengers as they board or leave services.
The platforms were due to be built up to close the gap between carriage floor and platform top, in the next financial year.
But the project has ‘slipped’ back in the list of regional railway infra-structure priorities and may not now happen until 2014 - 2019 spending phase.
It is claimed that the ‘gap’ facing passengers on the Wigan-bound platform is so large that some infirm travellers habitually run through to Wigan Wallgate station.
They then catch a return train to Bryn instead, because the St Helens-bound platforms are at a more manageable height.
Council opposition leader Gary Wilkes said that he and fellow ward Coun Don Hodgkinson have been trying to get the large gap between the rolling stock and the platform reduced for the last few years.
Coun Wilkes said: “The only way is to build a new platform or build on top of the existing one, which isn’t ideal.
“We have been informed that work was suppose to start soon.
“Now we have been informed that, because of funding issues, it has been put back two years or even longer, which is really shocking news.
“We are determined to keep the pressure on to improve the facilities at Bryn and we will not give up until it is fit for purpose and we can promise passengers the fight goes on.
”The railway authorities keep talking about the number of passengers but when they improve the facilities more people will feel confident using them.”
Coun Hodgkinson said: “Bryn is the last station out of Greater Manchester and one mile further along is Garswood Station, which is in Merseyside and has much better facilities and manned staff.”
A spokesman for Network Rail explained that the company works in five-year financial control periods. It was told by the Office of Rail Regulation how much money they can spend in each control period on maintaining and enhancing the railway with the current control period due to close in to 2014.
He said: “It had been our intention to rebuild the platforms at Bryn station. In doing so, the height of the platforms would have been increased to reduce the distance that passengers have to step between the platform and train.
“But we have now reviewed our finances and it has been decided that there are other stations that have a higher footfall that should be prioritised for such work over Bryn.”
He pointed out that the annual footfall for Bryn station, based on the latest figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation, is just short of 129,000 passengers.
He added: “The next financial control period runs from 2014 to 2019, and the Bryn work has been deferred until then.”