Fury as rail bosses slash number of trains and carriages serving Bolton
COMMUTERS will face travel chaos from next week when the number of trains and carriages calling at Bolton is reduced.
First TransPennine Express has announced that from Sunday there will be one less train to and from Manchester every hour.
And another busy commuter train will have its carriages reduced from six to just three.
The news has brought an angry reaction from commuters.
Bosses at FTPE admit the changes will be “difficult” and are calling on people to change their travel habits to ease pressure.
The Manchester to Scotland services will go through Wigan instead of Bolton — meaning the loss of one train coming through Bolton each hour.
The popular commuter train that stops at Bolton at 8.08am en-route to Manchester will be maintained — but FPTE chiefs claim they have been forced to halve the number of carriages.
This service, which previously stopped at Manchester Piccadilly before terminating at Manchester Airport, will now only go as far as Manchester Oxford Road station.
When returning from Manchester, the busy 5.15pm from Manchester Piccadilly to Bolton will remain, but there will be no 6:16pm service.
This will instead be re-routed through Wigan.
FTPE chiefs have made the changes so they can take advantage of the newly electrified line between Manchester and the West Coast Mainline — improvements Bolton commuters will have to wait until 2016 to enjoy.
Northern Rail services will not be changing but could be more crowded because of FTPE’s reduced services.
The company has said it will be encouraging commuters travelling from Preston to Manchester to avoid the Bolton-bound morning service and instead use the new faster train to Manchester, which runs via Wigan.
It is hoped this will free up space for people getting on the reduced train at Bolton.
Bosses are also asking people travelling from Wigan to use the new electric service instead of travelling on services through Bolton.
Programme director for FTPE, Chris Nutton, said: “We are encouraging people to change their travel habits and hope that passengers at Preston will choose the new, faster service to Manchester and in doing so, free up space for those getting on the commuter train at Bolton.
“But we recognise that trains through Bolton are already extremely busy and until electrification happens here it will remain difficult.
“Electrification is the right decision and will see faster journeys and bigger capacities felt at Bolton but it is a long-term solution.
“It is unfortunate that we have to prioritise but this is because of the success of rail travel — we have doubled our number of passengers in the past nine years.”
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A spokesman for Network Rail, who is carrying out the £400 million pound electrification of railways in the North West, added that the electrification of the Manchester to Preston line, which includes Bolton, is expected to be completed by December, 2016.
He said: “We had to look at the different structures and figure out how to be the least disruptive — that’s how we came to the decision of doing the work in phases.
“When it comes to Bolton it is not just what’s on the tracks, there are challenges in the form of the bridges, which need rebuilding, and there’s the Farnworth tunnel, which is a challenge.
“Once electrification is delivered the people of Bolton will experience faster trains, with more capacity and a more reliable infrastructure.”
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