Calls for stations to be reinstated

Wigan's railways largely escaped Dr Beeching's butchery - our passengers enjoy regular domestic and intercity services from a town still boasting the almost unheard of luxury of TWO main stations.

And they could even have chosen from three stations until 1964 when the axe fell on the town centre's former Great Central's terminus (now buried beyond trace under the Grand Shopping Arcade).

But that does not mean that all our stations themselves completely escaped the cull.

And calls are growing for serious thought to be given to new build/replacement facilities at four locations where new estates have appeared.

They include Standish (closed by British Railways Board May 1949), Golborne (closed 1949), Bamfurlong (closed 1950) and Robin Park (new station).

*STANDISH station, on top of the Rectory Lane rail bridge, was closed after more than a century's service, despite patently being built in the wrong place for most of the population.

Drivers stopped by the traffic lights can still see the outline of the now bricked-up staircase into the long-gone island platforms.

Wigan public transport pro-rail campaigner Coun John Hilton is proposing that a new station should not be rebuilt here. It would be better placed half a mile north at Broomfield (Bradley Lane Industrial Estate), because there is the space for a park and ride scheme.

Recently retired after 47 years as a train driver and ASLEF rail union official, he said: "There was a scheme put forward going back many many years to move the station up the line to Broomfield, where the old Standish Heinz factory was and I have always strongly supported that."

*GOLBORNE station has been the focus of a long-running campaign to reopen its platforms.

But the stumbling block remains getting sufficient agreement from all the rail partners to find the trains to stop there and space in the timetable of Britain's busiest line to allow them to do just that without delaying the London/Scotland expresses.

As recently as at Christmas, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) and the Passenger Transport Executive publically announced that they had accepted the case for new investment.

Makerfield MP Ian McCartney has contacted the chief executive of Network Rail seeking a meeting. He remains confident that "so long as everyone remains sensible" a new station could be delivered.

*A NEW Robin Park halt, north of Wallgate, would be a boost for sports fans journeying to the JJB Stadium and shoppers taking advantage of the top flight shops and leisure facilities.

Such a (basic and unmanned) station would hardly be breaking new ground in Greater Manchester.

Fans of Bolton Wanderers can catch a train to the very shadow of the Reebok by using the Horwich Parkway facility.

Coun Hilton said: "There is no reason why we couldn't put a small station at the end of the loop at Wallgate which can hold up to twelve coaches.Then it would be just a short hop on a bridge over the canal for fans to get to the JJB or for shoppers to use Robin Park.

*BAMFURLONG station is not able to muster as strong an argument for reopening, although the communities surrounding it would not agree.

The track bed may still be exist but it contains no railway line so economically this looks unlikely.

The former station is now a high-speed section of Britain's busiest railway line. So plans to reopen the station could well meet resistance from express train operators Virgin.

Labour's Coun John Hilton is up for re-election at the May 1 council polls. Other candidates for the Aspull-New Springs-Whelley ward are Anthony Hind, Conservative and Alan Robinson, Liberal Democrat.