Backing for rail project

The signal box outside Wigan Wallgate Station
The signal box outside Wigan Wallgate Station

PASSENGERS have given a massive rail expansion scheme their overwhelming support.

The £560m Northern Hub improvements will offer quicker and more frequent train paths into the city from Wigan Wallgate and bring a significant boost to the economy.

After a wide-ranging consultation by Network Rail, more than 80 per cent said that the proposals would make them more likely to use the train for work and play.

More than 2,000 people attended events in stations, town halls and shopping centres and gave their feedback online during a recent consultation.

The Northern Hub, which is a vision for rail investment across the region first proposed a decade ago, would allow faster, more frequent journeys.

It includes the Ordsall Chord, a new short section of railway near Manchester which will reduce journey times by easing a major train bottleneck, plus work to electrify the network between Manchester and Liverpool and the Lancashire triangle, and fully restoring Manchester Victoria station.

Network Rail’s Graham Botham said: “It is hugely encouraging that the overwhelming majority of the public in the region support our plans to make it easier for people to get to work, do business, go shopping and visit friends and family.”

Network Rail is inviting further comment on all aspects of the vision during consultations to be held in 2012.

More than 25 consultation events were held over eight weeks.

Transport leaders in Greater Manchester have also announced a New Year wish-list of projects.

Members of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, says the Northern Hub will unlock £4bn of benefits to the northern economy. The Government is due to make a decision on the scheme next summer.

The GMC also wants extra carriages, further electrification of routes and approval for High Speed 2.