Wigan braced for summer of rail travel chaos

A stretch of the West Coast Main Line in Golborne
A stretch of the West Coast Main Line in Golborne

WIGAN will be at the heart of major travel chaos for holiday-makers this summer.

More than 18 miles of the West Coast Main Line through the borough will be closed for engineering work during what is arguably the busiest period for those who use rail for the great seaside getaway: July 13 to 21.

Engineering chiefs from infrastructure company Network Rail today confirmed that the busiest train route in the country will be closed through Wigan so that permanent way can be relaid to allow, eventually, faster trains leading to more punctual services. When completed the programme will allow the sleek tilting trains to run at over 75mph over the four upgraded junctions: Golborne Junction, Bamfurlong Junction, Wigan Springs Branch and Balshaw Lane.

Subsidence caused by Wigan’s mining past has been blamed for need for work. The £18m improvement scheme will be completed over nine days when four major life-expired junctions will be replaced and three miles of track re-laid.

Trains will be unable to use the lines north of Wigan to Preston and train operators Virgin Trains and Northern will be making alternative arrangements with replacement bus services to help passengers complete their journeys during the line closure.

Network Rail today strongly defended the timing of the “engineers possession.” It insists it will prove less disruptive over all to have the works completed - teams will work 24 hours such is the scale of the task - in one go, rather than over a series of weekends.

More than 6,600 new railway sleepers will be laid before 21,500 tonnes of ballast are tipped on the tracks to secure them, delivered by 61 freight trains in 865 wagons. Network Rail is now working with the train operators to arrange a replacement rail and road travel service.

It said today that its joint aim is to enable passengers to travel by train as far as possible.”

The temporary line closure will affect passengers using services run by Virgin Trains, Northern and First TransPennine Express and the train operators are developing timetables for alternative services, which will be publicised and available through rail journey planning and train company websites.

Plans are being made for leaflets to be handed out at Wigan North Western station in advance of the work and along with a road show there in the near future, dates to be confirmed.