LEIGH’S MP has thrown his weight behind the town’s campaign to be rail served.
Andy Burnham has called on transport chiefs to consider plans for BOTH a heavy rail link AND a guided busway in Leigh following a high profile drive from pressure group Transport for Leigh.
And Mr Burnham believes there is already a viable rail option in place - connecting the town to the existing line running through Kenyon Junction, Chat Moss and Astley.
Mr Burnham said: “For as long as I remain MP for Leigh, I will continue to call for an accessible rail station link to serve our town.
“Thanks in part to the efforts of Transport for Leigh, I feel optimistic that we are on the verge of a breakthrough on these crucial issues.
“There is a case for the Guided Busway. But I also know that it will not be a realistic option for many people living in the south of Leigh, Lowton or Golborne.
“Our area’s public transport needs are so considerable that I do not believe they would be adequately met by either one of these schemes on their own. Put simply, Leigh needs both.
“I remain of the view that the most viable rail solution for Leigh would probably involve the existing line and services running through Kenyon Junction, Chat Moss and Astley.
“I believe there is a strong case for looking again at the proposals put forward as part of the Xanadu scheme, particularly since the Leigh Sports Village is now a reality. GMPTE have assured me that they will give these issues their fullest consideration.”
Backers of the project to bring a train station back to Leigh, with a new rail line, claim the scheme would cost almost a third less than the proposed new £77m kerb-guided busway.
But a GMPTE report to be presented to Wigan Council’s transport committee says it would actually cost £95m.
Pressure group Transport for Leigh’s expert costing said that building a new station at Pennington and taking a spur from the existing Liverpool / Manchester (Chat Moss) line at Kenyon Junction via an over-bridge over the East Lancs Road would cost £52m.
Transport for Leigh is now urging residents to add their name to a new online petition to show support for a rail link to Leigh. Visit, www.gopetition.com/petition/43747.html