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Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has announced a major upgrade to the railway line between Wigan and Bolton. The upgrade focuses on providing passengers with a greener and more reliable railway.

The track between Wigan North Western station and Lostock junction, near Bolton, is set to receive a £78 million upgrade, with a targeted completion date some time in 2024/25.

Mr 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.”

By electrifying almost 13 miles of infrastructure and lengthening platforms, this investment ensures that CO2 emitting diesel trains are replaced by electric rolling stock. As longer trains with additional capacity, these will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable and more reliable journeys.

Phil James, North West route director at Network Rail, commented: “To help the region recover from the pandemic, we’re turning over a new leaf thanks to the £78 million investment to electrify the railway between Wigan and Lostock junction.

“This environmentally and passenger-centric scheme will be a game changer for Greater Manchester’s railway as more electric trains mean better air quality, less railway noise and more reliable and spacious journeys for rail travellers.”

The upgrading project will also provide 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions as well as modifying 17 bridges and two level crossings. Platforms in Hindley, Westhoughton and Ince stations will be extended to reduce overcrowding at peak times, and to cater for six-carriage trains in the future.

The project provides train operators with more operational flexibility to deploy trains to these parts of Wigan and Bolton from the recently upgraded train maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.

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