OAP is told station makeover is a risk

Val Houghton, at Atherton railway station
Val Houghton, at Atherton railway station

A grandmother who transformed an overgrown trackside wasteland into a pretty garden has been forced to stop ... on health and safety grounds.

Val Houghton, 72, has hit out at Northern Railway and accused management of ‘under-appreciating’ her green-fingered work.

The labour of love - which is 4ft away from the rail line - has taken three years, hundreds of hours and over £2,000 to maintain.

The luscious green space has been fitted with wall baskets which provide tributes to 12 local people and three gardens complete with shrubs, flowers, small conifers and a holly bush.

Commuters have previously heaped praise on the ‘bright and cheerful’ patch which lies next to Wigan to Manchester and Manchester to Southport railway line.

But now Val is facing heartbreak, as rail officials have ordered her to halt work because she is dangerously close to the track line - despite previously giving her permission.

The estate agent owner, from Atherton, says she is losing sleep amid fears the green space - which she tended to every day - will fall into disrepair.

Val said: "I feel let down and under-appreciated by the station’s management.

"Even though I was close to the train track when I was doing the gardening work, I was always careful and checked with the staff what time the next train was due to pass through.

"The Remember Me tributes are important to people and I get lots of comments about how nice it looks.

"I am losing sleep about what will happen to the state of the plants at the moment because they could die if they are not watered enough."

Northern Railway, which runs the station, has defended its stance on the decision to ban Val from carrying out gardening work.

A spokesman said: "We think what Val has done at the station is really lovely.

"However, it is very dangerous for her to be working so close to the line.

"We will be in contact with Val about making arrangements to move the plants."