The track between Wigan North Western station and Lostock Junction near Bolton is receiving a £78m upgrade, in the hopes of providing passengers with a more sustainable and trustworthy railway.
Around 13 miles of infrastructure is due to be electrified, alongside the lengthening of platforms.
The investment aims to replace CO2 emitting diesel trains with electric rolling stock, and longer trains with extra capacity will ensure passengers can travel with ease.
Chris Heaton-Harris, Rail Minister, said “as we build back better and create a railway that truly works for passengers, I am delighted to give this rail upgrade the go-ahead.”
He added, "this significant investment will provide a service around Greater Manchester that is better for both passengers and the environment, ensuring our railway plays its part in meeting our ambitious net zero ambitions.”
Phil James, North West route director at Network Rail, explained that the investment is crucial in recovering from the pandemic.
He added, “this environmentally and passenger-centric scheme will be a game changer for Greater Manchester’s railway as more electric trains mean better air quality, less railway noise and more reliable and spacious journeys for rail travellers.”
The investment offers 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions, and alterations to 17 bridges and two-level crossings.
Hindley, Westhoughton and Ince station are also expected to have their platforms extended to reduce overcrowding at peak times, whilst accommodating the six-carriage trains in the future.
Nick Donovan, Managing Director at Northern, said “in the past 18 months we have made significant improvements to the Northern network with a fleet of 101 new trains, refurbishment of our older trains and enhancements at stations.”
He continued, “today’s announcement provides further evidence of the rail industry’s commitment to improve and modernise our services and infrastructure to benefit passengers and the environment.”
The scheme will support train operators, providing them with more operational flexibility to deploy trains to these parts of Wigan and Bolton from the newly renovated train maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.
The upgrade is set to be completed between 2024/2025.