Anger as Westhoughton loses rush hour train service
A PEAK time commuter train will no longer call at one of Bolton’s busiest stations.
The 4.38pm Northern Rail service from Manchester Victoria to Wigan no longer stops at Westhoughton.
Bosses say the move is because changes to the timetable mean there is no time for the stop if trains are to make a connection at Wigan.
It has left the town with no Manchester service for an hour in the middle of rush-hour.
Westhoughton is the only station removed from the amended service’s route, which means some holders of a £906-per-year season pass are now forced to return home an hour later.
Furious commuters have slammed rail bosses for the move.
Caroline Mangnell said she is now faced with an hour-wait in Manchester or a long walk home from Daisy Hill station.
She said: “I spend £906 a year on the pass to be squashed into a carriage standing up already.
“The trains are nearly always packed and lots of people get on and off at Westhoughton.
“There is no sign of monetary compensation for annual pass holders who have organised routines around the service provided.
“I have friends who use the service who have children in nursery who will now have to to pay for an additional hour.
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“I am aware of people are having to renegotiate work contracts so they can amend their working hours.”
Mrs Mangnell cannot leave work until 4.30pm, so is too late for the 4.13pm from Salford Central or 4.28pm from Deansgate.
Instead she must wait an hour to catch a service from Deansgate at 5.29pm, which gets her home after 6pm.
Her only other option is to catch a service to Daisy Hill , which would mean a half-hour walk home which she fears could be dangerous in dark, winter months.
Cllr David Wilkinson, for Hoskers and Hart Common, said the news was “disappointing” and questioned the wisdom in removing Westhoughton, one of the “busiest” unmanned stations.
Cllr Wilkinson, who travels by train daily, said: “We want people to make the switch away from a car, not the other way round.
“I use the station twice a day most days and it is always busy.”
Northern Rail bosses said the change was unavoidable.
A spokesman said: “The service doesn't call at Westhoughton in the new timetable as the train working this service now needs to get to Wigan in time to form an earlier service back to Manchester, and so is limited in the stops it can make.
“This is part of a package of alterations to enable us to provide evening peak services between Preston, Bolton and Manchester to fill gaps in the service left as part of the enhanced electric Manchester-Scotland service running via Wigan.”
The Bolton News launched its Let’s Get Back On Track campaign calling for an end to Bolton’s “cattle-truck” trains.
And last month Prime Minister David Cameron promised Bolton would get an extra 200 seats, with some being introduced on the morning commuter route before the end of the year.
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