Wigan bridge replacement project causing traffic chaos to take months longer than planned

A Wigan town is to face further months of disruption after a bridge demolition and replacement project hit problems.
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Ladies Lane, Hindley, has been closed since March 13 as Network Rail began work on a £78m rail enhancement programme to electrify 13 miles of track between Lostock Junction and Wigan North Western.

Hindley station has also been shut so platforms can be extended to increase passenger capacity.

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Road diversions, rail replacements and bus routes are currently in place as well as a temporary walkway.

General view of the railway bridge on Ladies LaneGeneral view of the railway bridge on Ladies Lane
General view of the railway bridge on Ladies Lane
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The bridge next to the station – which will continue to have vehicle and pedestrian access upon completion – will also be reconstructed with concrete and incorporate 1.8m-high parapets to meet the required standards for electrification.

It was set to re-open in July, however difficulties aligning the work with other companies means the road will remain closed for longer than anticipated.

The work is currently being re-organised and it is not yet known how much longer it will take.

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A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We appreciate that our major investment to electrify the railway at Hindley is disruptive for residents and we’re sorry this is now going to take longer than expected.

"This large project involves lining up multiple organisations, like utility companies, so we can all use the closure of Ladies Lane to its fullest potential.

“We’ve run into some difficulties aligning all the work which needs doing which is why we will need to keep the road closed for longer.

"When we know exactly how much more time we need, we will communicate details with residents and local businesses immediately.

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“We thank people for their continued understanding while we carry out this complex project which in future will see longer, cleaner electric trains running between Wigan and Bolton.”

Despite objectors raising questions over whether the historic bridge, should be protected from a heritage point of view and fears over traffic disruption, Wigan Council was required to green light the proposals, as under planning law railway companies have the power to carry out any work that is deemed necessary for “making, maintaining, altering or repairing and using the railway.”

Network Rail has also been criticised for not putting on a service to help children get to school due to the road closures.

Although there is no legal obligation to provide minibuses for schoolchildren as a result of these works, it did look into this option but found ‘inadequate turning points’ for their vehicles to get around.

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This means that a number of children face a walk of just over a mile to the nearest bus stop for transport.

Local charity Thrive had been putting on a minibus service for the children in the affected areas, but that came to an end after the Easter holidays.

They did this using their own minibus and paying for petrol out of their own pocket ‘for the good of the community’.

This minibus idea was not set up through Wigan Council or Network Rail.

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Thrive said they were just ‘happy to help’ and gave the driver Sandy, in his 80s, a special mention for his driving duties.

Currently Coun Ready is working with Transport for Greater Manchester to try to arrange support for the parents of the children wanting to go to school.

Nothing is in place so far.