Vast high-tech railway hub opens in Wigan
A state-of-the art new rail depot costing a whopping £46m has been opened in Wigan.
The Springs Branch railway sidings in Ince have been adapted by Network Rail so it can stable and maintain 24 electric and eight diesel trains and this has created 20 jobs in the process.
VIPs including the Mayor of Wigan Coun Steve Dawber, Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue and council leader David Molyneux were invited to attend the grand launch which included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Senior representatives from the Department for transport, Arriva Rail North and Network Rail were also in attendance.
The upgrade, which was completed in December, is part of the Great North Rail Project - a railway industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the north.
Bosses say the new depot - located just off the West Coast Mainline - will provide more flexibility for regional rail operators to move their trains across the north overnight in preparation for services the next day and will provide a new home for additional trains brought into use by 2020.
The development has seen the installation of new overhead line equipment to power the electric trains.
It also includes staff accommodation, train washing and fuelling capabilities.
The build involved 2,500m of new track, 46 new pylons and 2,650m of new overhead line equipment. Five new service platforms have been built and 1,000m of walkways for staff to operate the facility safely.
As well as general train maintenance and stabling, the depot delivers train washing and refuelling facilities to help provide the best possible service for rail passengers.
To allow the depot to stable more services to Wigan North Western later in the year, Network Rail will begin work to alter platform bays two and three at Wigan North Western station on the
West Coast main line in summer 2020. This change will allow even more trains to stable at Springs Branch by allowing them to turn back at the station.
Coun Molyneux, Leader of Wigan Council said: “This is a fantastic new facility for Wigan Borough and we hope the enhanced travel experience encourages passengers to visit Wigan.
“Supporting people into work and helping people to develop their skills is a key priority for the council so it’s great to hear that 18 new jobs have been created to facilitate this. I’m thankful to have been invited along to the official opening of the depot, not only as cabinet member for economy and regeneration, but as a proud councillor of Ince ward."
Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Arriva UK Trains, said: “I’m proud of the teams that have been involved in building this new £46m facility, which is part and parcel of a wider transformation of rail in the north.
"We’ve already rolled out 62 of the 101 promised new trains and set strong foundations for future improvement on the network, including the complete removal of pacers by May.”
Lauren Rodgers, project manager at Network Rail, said “The rail industry has come together to build this £46m new train depot at Springs Branch, and we’re really happy to have created 18 jobs.
“But, this much-needed infrastructure will really benefit passengers, as it not only helps keep trains clean and tidy, it also creates more operational space for Northern to move units more reliably and punctually across the North West.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Northern passengers have been victim to unreliable and overcrowded services for too long, and this £46m is just one part of our efforts to improve journeys and level up infrastructure.
“The new depot at Wigan is one of many real and tangible improvements to the network, supporting new, greener, more accessible trains right across the north.”
Ms Forvargue said: “Today’s official opening marks the result of several years construction and a collaboration between so many arms of the rail industry to deliver this fantastic project.
“This is a real economic boost for Wigan and the rail network in the North will benefit as a result. Its success will ensure a much better passenger experience as new trains are rolled out over the coming months.”