Business leaders’ fear over cuts to rail services

The Bolton News: Business leaders say nobody wants to travel in ‘the sardine class’ Business leaders say nobody wants to travel in ‘the sardine class’

THE reduction in train services coming to Bolton could harm the local economy, according to the town’s business leaders.

The Bolton News has launched a campaign asking bosses from First TransPennine Express (FT-PE) to reverse their decision to reduce services coming through Bolton and to halve the number of carriages on a key morning train.

We received the backing of commuters, MPs and political leaders and now Bolton’s business community.

Rod Neasham, manager of The Market Place shopping centre in the town centre, said that “good and frequent transport links” will be crucial to making the most of the new plans for the centre.

The centre is set to receive £15 million worth of investment, with new owners planning a nine-screen cinema and restaurants.

Mr Neasham said: “Good transport links are the lifeblood of commerce in the town centre and bearing in mind the exciting new plans for The Market Place, I would hope that this decision can be reviewed.”

The town centre’s other shopping centre is Crompton Place and manager Malcolm Angus bemoaned the decision to cut train services in the run-up to Christmas.

He said: “This would be bad at any time of year but especially in the run-up to Christmas when retailers are pushing their sales and trying their best to meet targets.

“This will definitely affect the town centre footfall because nobody wants to travel in the sardine class — I’m sure lots of people will still come to Bolton but those who rely on public transport will be put off.”

The changes to the timetable have come about as FTPE look to take advantage of the newly electrified line that connects Manchester and the West Coast Mainline — meaning trains from Manchester to Scotland will run via Wigan instead of Bolton.

Greater Manchester’s Chamber of Commerce have described the situation as “unfortunate”.

Emma Antrobus, who is police and campaigns manager at the chamber, said: “It is unfortunate that Bolton will be losing rail services and train capacity, particularly as we know that connectivity can be such an important factor in helping the economy.

“The Chamber continues to talk to the Government about increasing investment in rail.”

To sign the Let’s Get Back On Track petition, call in to The Bolton News office. You can also sign the petition online.

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