Businesses trading from Wigan’s railway arches face a waiting game to see what the future holds after the properties were sold.
Arches across the country, which were previously run by Network Rail, have been sold by the Government for almost £1.5bn to two investment groups.
So far few details of what this will mean for Wigan’s traders who call the arches home have been revealed, and there is still considerable uncertainty going forward.
Companies in the Queen Street arches include award-winning micropub Wigan Central, which is yet to publicly comment on the sale.
However, one of the town’s companies in the arches has expressed optimism that it will be good news for the firms.
On the other hand, the Government has come in for heavy criticism from trade unions and prominent public figures over the sale.
Andy Rouse, director of Rouse Landscape which is located beneath Wigan North Western station, said: “We have been told things are changing over but we’ve had no correspondence from the new owners.
“Hopefully they will be better landlords than Network Rail. We have trees growing at the front under the brickwork but we’re not allowed to touch it because it’s the railway.
“Network Rail say they do regular maintenance but those trees are a good few years old and they’re still there.
“I haven’t been told that much yet so we’re just cracking on.
“There’s no point worrying about it because there’s enough to worry about when running a business.
“We’re relatively new here but we like the position of it and it’s very secure.”
The Wigan response contrasts with the chorus of condemnation aimed at ministers over the arches sale.
Union the Transport Salaried Staffs Association said its engineer members are worried about adequate access for inspections in future and The Big Issue founder Lord John Bird called the lack of consultation “appallingly medieval”.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This is an ill-conceived and panic-driven measure with long-term consequences. It also stinks of creeping privatisation where the family silver is knocked down to speculators.”