The railway line connecting Bolton with Wigan will be electrified as part of a £78m “major upgrade”, it’s been announced.
The work on the 13-mile stretch between Wigan North Western and Lostock Junction is due to be completed in 2024/25, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said.
The investment is aimed at ensuring CO2-emitting diesel trains are replaced by electric rolling stock, with platforms also set to be made longer to accommodate the new trains with additional capacity.
Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “As we build back better and create a railway that truly works for passengers, I am delighted to give this rail upgrade the go-ahead.
“This significant investment will provide a service around Greater Manchester that is better for both passengers and the environment, ensuring our railway plays its part in meeting our ambitious net zero ambitions.”
The upgrade project will provide 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions, and modifications to 17 bridges and two-level crossings.
Platforms will also be extended at Hindley, Westhoughton and Ince stations to reduce overcrowding at peak times and cater for six-carriage trains in the future, the Department for Transport said.
The project will provide operators with more flexibility to deploy trains from the recently upgraded maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.
The news follows the recent electrification of the line from Manchester Victoria to Preston through Bolton.
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The project is also hoped to make journey times shorter, as well as lowering operating costs and carbon savings for passenger and any freight services using the route.
Transport for the North welcomed the announcement.
Chief executive Martin Tugwell said: “It’s great news that a commitment has now been made to electrify this key section of the rail network.
“It may be just one piece in a bigger jigsaw, but it will support sustainable rail in this area of the North West for many years to come.
“We have already made clear that the need to decarbonise our surface transport network is vital in helping to tackle the climate emergency.
“This is a step towards that, but there remains a huge amount of work to be done – including commitment to projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.”