Changes planned to road and rail links to ease congestion

Junction 25 of the M6
Junction 25 of the M6

Plans to shut one of the borough’s motorway junctions and open another to traffic in both directions have been unveiled by transport bosses.

The 2040 strategy revealed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) includes plans to open junction 25 at Marus Bridge to both northbound and southbound traffic and close junction 24 to prevent severe congestion in Ashton town centre.

TfGM also says it wants to re-integrate Wigan’s two railway stations, making it much easier for passengers to move between Wallgate and North Western, and is looking at allowing both Metrolink trams and trains to run along the Atherton route.

The document, unveiled last week, also backs a number of ongoing schemes in the borough including the M58 and A49 link roads which it is hoped will speed up journeys from west to east and ease the pressure on congestion hotspots.

TfGM says the changes in the borough are about ensuring Wigan remains an attractive destination for housebuilders and other businesses for decades to come.

Transport strategy director Simon Warburton said: “There has been a long-standing aspiration to make sure the relationship between the motorway and the town centre is maximised.

“Junction 25 has been a bottleneck for a long time and this is us looking to bring forward an initiative to resolve it.

“It’s critical in terms of connections out of the borough and ensuring commercial traffic is well maintained through the borough.

“Wigan is an incredibly attractive location for housing developers and while this is ultimately good for the economic health of Wigan we want to put the right infrastructure in place for that to happen and benefit all.

“The integration of the two train stations is something we’ve looked at a few times but the time is now right to come up with a solution. Rail is so popular these days and so important for the town we’ve been working with Wigan Council on how we can minimise the inconvenience for passengers.

“Clearly if we went back to Victorian times we would do things differently and there would be one station.

“There are massive opportunities for Wigan. It’s one of our few towns with direct main line access to the capital and we’ve got to make sure it’s not just the town which can benefit but all the communities out on the line coming out of Wallgate.

“We have been very keen to not produce a wishlist as that doesn’t help anyone. These are initiatives we’ve developed working closely with colleagues in the borough.

“We’ve also listened to what businesses and local communities have been saying.”

The document says more needs to be done on the borough’s road network as new industrial developments are planned along the M6 and around 11 per cent of Wigan’s commuters work in Warrington.

The transport strategy also gives TfGM’s continued backing to various ongoing infrastructure projects such as the installation of smart motorway along the M6 where it passes through Wigan borough and the super-fast HS2 train route, which transport bosses want to see arriving in the North West as soon as possible.

The organisation is also working with the Government around the devolution of powers to the elected Greater Manchester mayor, with Wigan in line to benefit from powers which will allow London-style franchised and integrated bus services to be introduced across the region.

Ultimately TfGM says it wants to end the current confusion of private operators setting different fares and have one clear ticketing and cost structure in place across the whole of Greater Manchester.

Transport bosses also want to make the area greener, promoting better pedestrian and cycling links to prevent people needing to get in the car for short journeys.

Plans are also being developed to reduce congestion on the roads and reduce the numbers of accidents.

TfGM also wants to improve facilities around the public transport network, especially for disabled travellers.

A 12-week consultation on all the ideas in the 128-page strategy has now been launched and TfGM is anxious to hear what the public makes of the schemes it has put forward.

Interim Greater Manchester Mayor Tony Lloyd praised the proposals, saying he thought it made the region easier to get around and more environmentally friendly.

Mr Lloyd said: “Greater Manchester is changing. Our population and economy are growing and we are making more decisions about jobs, housing and transport here in GM.

“The Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 is about creating long-term plans to help build a successful, resilient Greater Manchester, ready for future challenges and opportunities.

“We’re now handing over to the public and I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to have their say on these proposals and help to shape the future of transport in our region.”

To have your say on the strategy, visit the wesbite tfgm.com/2040