Wigan North Western station in line for upgrades, says rail firm
Improvements have been promised at Wigan’s intercity railway station after the new operators for the West Coast Main Line were announced.
Firstgroup and Trenitalia UK have taken over from Virgin Trains and say there will be an overhaul of facilities at Wigan North Western.
The new partnership, which will be known as First Trenitalia West Coast, takes over in December and will run the services linking the borough to major cities including London.
It will also be in charge of HS2, which is planned to connect with the existing mainline within the borough.
Other benefits for Wigan rail passengers have also been promised, with vows to simplify fares and put more trains on the rails.
While the Government has welcomed the announcement there have been eyebrows raised at the involvement of another European state-based railway firm in the UK, as Trenitalia is a subsidiary of a firm wholly owned by the Italian government.
A transport union has savaged the timing of the unveiling.
First Trenitalia West Coast is promising 260 extra weekly services across the network by 2022, adding 10 per cent more seat miles to the railways than were there in 2017-18.
Wigan North Western is one of 13 North West stations earmarked for improvements, which could include new waiting rooms, more facilities for customers, extra car parking spaces and better accessibility for disabled passengers or those with mobility issues.
Environmental proposals have also been released, with plans for lower-emissions trains and stations with a reduced carbon footprint.
FirstGroup chief executive Matthew Gregory said: “The West Coast Partnership includes operation of one of the most consistently successful intercity mainline franchises over the last 20 years.
“We are committed to delivering a range of improvements for passengers during the first phase of the partnership and our aim is to provide exceptional service as standard for our customers.”
However, the news has not been entirely well received.
The RMT union said: “The announcement that First Trenitalia are being shunted on to the West Coast Mainline in the midst of the rail staff pension row is just another political fix by a Government whose privatised franchise model is collapsing around their ears.”