Hopes are rising that plans to reconnect parts of the borough to the rail network have moved a small step closer.
Politicians and residents who back proposals for a station at Kenyon Junction to serve Leigh and Lowton have been given grounds for optimism by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).
Regional transport bosses have confirmed that after May’s Greater Manchester mayoral election they will be preparing a 10-year plan which may include looking at the provision of new train stations.
Although no details have been considered yet and no individual station proposals will be included in the document this has given campaigners who have long backed a station at Kenyon some fresh hope.
Lowton East ward representative Coun James Grundy said: “Last year TfGM listened to our concerns at my invitation and we put forward all the information about Kenyon Junction.
“We’re absolutely delighted about the news of the 10-year plan. This is something we have been working hard on for years in Lowton.
“Obviously at the moment it is not concrete but it does look like we are a step closer to getting a station back for the area of Leigh and Lowton.”
Ed Thwaite, chair of the Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (Lendf) residents’ group, has been leading calls for a station at Kenyon Junction for years and he also expressed satisfaction that the plan might be back on the regional agenda later this year.
He said installing the station to re-connect Leigh, Lowton and other areas to regular services to Manchester and Liverpool overwhelmingly made sense.
Mr Thwaite said: “It is at least something that it might be considered. It is basically one field away from the end of the Atherleigh Way bypass where it joins the East Lancs Road and there is room for 1,000 cars down there as well as a bus terminal. All they would need to do is put a pod station in, which would cost about £12m like they did in Chorley a few years back.”
TfGM has sounded a note of caution but said demand for new stations and proposals to install them would be assessed.
A spokesman said: “We are constantly working with industry partners to plan and develop rail services for Greater Manchester and its residents. As part of our drive to ensure the very best rail network we are currently developing a 10-year strategic plan. This looks at a range of issues from timetable provision through to customer information and service. The plan will also assess the current Greater Manchester rail station estate and any evidence-based aspirations for its future growth and development. We will also be assessing all new station proposals for heavy rail on a fair and consistent basis, in which Kenyon Junction will be considered.”
Mr Thwaite said the facility could serve Culcheth, Glazebury, Lowton and Golborne and with a shuttle bus to Leigh.