Bringing train services back to Leigh after half a century could attract more visitors to the area, according to Wigan council’s leader.
Wigan council is backing a campaign calling for Golborne station to be reopened, a move which would connect Leigh to the wider rail network.
Leigh is the largest town in the North West without an active railway station, since it closed in 1969.
A petition launched by the town’s MP Jo Platt argues that reopening Golborne station – which closed in 1961 – would be the quickest way of achieving better rail connectivity in the area.
The plan to reopen has been considered by Transport for the North (TfN), with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) also looking into new transport links in the area.
Offering his support to the campaign, Wigan council leader David Molyneux said: “Quality transport links and easy connectivity are both key to ensuring the economic growth of our borough and helping people access more job opportunities.
“Although Leigh already has a thriving guided busway, which has significantly improved connectivity between Leigh and Manchester, we support the suggestion of a new train station in Golborne to encourage further footfall to our borough.
“We are still awaiting the findings of TfGM’s study, which will give a clearer view on whether this would be feasible or not.”
Under Ms Platt’s plans, the new Golborne station would be connected to Leigh town centre by a guided busway.
The Labour MP and former Wigan councillor says local businesses and young people seeking work and education would benefit from improved rail connections.
It would also provide another option for commuters other than using the East Lancs Road and the M6.
“We have been without rail connectivity for 50 years now. That is totally unacceptable,” said Ms Platt after launching the petition.
“I won’t stop fighting until rail access has been secured because our towns have been held back for too long.
“It’s time we find our voice and demand that our potential is unleashed.”
Thousands of people have signed the petition, which urges co-operation between Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham, transport secretary Grant Shapps, TfN and TfGM.
It can be found at www.joplatt.mp