THE fate of a long-running campaign for a railway station in Leigh could be determined by council leaders this week.
Senior councillors will meet today at a cabinet meeting to discuss whether to abandon plans for a guided busway and push for the town, one of the largest in England without a station, to be rail served.
Transport chiefs have agreed to consider the proposals after hundreds of Leigh locals have got behind the rail option. Preparatory work has started on the buslink but there are already concerns it could run over budget.
Telecoms boss Ged Tyrrell has identified a site for a new train station for the town and even got experts from Stobart Rail to work out how much it would cost.
He says the total bill for linking Leigh to the national rail network would be £52m – a whopping £24m less than the planned busway.
Mr Tyrrell, who runs Tyrrell Systems in the town, says he will continue to push for a railway station in Leigh whatever the outcome of this week’s cabinet meeting.
He said: “When I set out, it was all about finding out what the people of Leigh wanted and establishing if there was any sort of viable alternative to the busway.
“A lot has changed since the busway was first proposed in 2000 and if a train station is feasible in Leigh then it should be considered.
“That led to the formation of the Transport for Leigh focus group and it soon became apparent through discussions with people in the area that a heavy rail link was by the far the most favoured option.
“At present, linking Leigh to the rail network appears to be common sense and would save £23.8m of tax payers’ money.”
Mr Tyrrell has identified a site in nearby Pennington for the proposed station. He says the £52m valuation includes costings for facilities such as a car park, platform structure and CCTV network, and even an £11m contingency.
The Metro has been urged to rethink the busway scheme after a motion was put forward by independent councillor Norman Bradbury.
But regional transport chiefs say they have previously ruled out rail.
Leigh has been without a link to the rail network since it became one of the victims of Beeching’s axe.
Alternative proposals to the railway station include the Leigh Guided Busway, which has caused much controversy in the town.
But the plans have faced opposition from some councillors who have called for the town to be reconnected to a rail network instead.
n Letters of support: turn to page 6