A FIRE set inches from Wigan rail-track shut down major travel routes last night.
Borough fire crews were called to a section in Ince at about 10.30pm, which is a spur from the West Coast Main Line.
A considerable amount of railway sleepers had been set alight, meaning nearby rail routes were suspended to allow access for the firefighters.
Crews from across the borough were battling the blaze throughout the early hours of this morning (Wednesday).
Watch manager Jim Clitheroe said: “It was between Ince and St Helens and this section of line is predominantly a goods line but we were not aware of that at first and therefore the nearby main line was suspended for a short time while we gained access and isolated the area.
“It was a tricky job because one of the railway bridges had a weight limit so we had to walk about half a mile with the equipment to reach the fire.
“It is a section of track which has been recently electrified so it was potentially a very dangerous situation.
“We were able to leave the scene by about 3am and worked with colleagues from Network Rail throughout.”
Deliberate ignition has not been ruled out as a cause of the fire and investigators will be assessing the site throughout the day.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “A lineside fire south of Wigan North Western station at around 11pm on Tuesday meant overhead lines were switched off for safety reasons while the emergency services assessed the situation. As soon as it was clear trains could run while the fire was dealt with, the lines were switched back on and trains were on the move again by 11.50pm.
“After safely gaining access, the fire was put out by 02.30am. The cause is being investigated.”