Transport secretary promises to look at overcrowding on Bolton's trains
THE secretary of state for transport has promised to look at the problem of overcrowding on Bolton’s trains.
Patrick McLoughlin told Bolton West MP Julie Hilling that he would examine the issue when she raised The Bolton News’ Let’s Get Back On Track campaign in parliament.
Ms Hilling spoke in the House of Commons about the chaos caused by the government’s electrification programme.
She asked whether more carriages could be brought to the region to ease overcrowding.
Mr McLoughlin said: “I will look at the case.”
The Bolton News launched the Let’s Get Back On Track campaign calling for a dramatic improvement to the town’s “cattle truck” rail services now First Trans-Pennine Express runs fewer services to and from Manchester as a result of major work to electrify the Manchester to Preston line.
A busy morning commuter train has also had its carriages reduced from six to just three.
Despite Mr Cameron saying he would look at the issue, MP Stephen Hammond, the Under-Secretary of State, told Bolton North East MP David Crausby it was a matter for the local railway operators.
During the debate with Mr McLoughlin, Ms Hilling asked: “Electrification is very welcome but it is creating mayhem in my constituency, with cuts to services and terrible overcrowding.
“The Prime Minister told The Bolton News “I will go away and look into it” — however, Mr Hammond has washed his hands of the issue.
“Who is right and who will provide more rolling stock for my constituents?”
Mr McLoughlin said: “If one is quoting between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State or any other Minister, it is usual to assume that the Prime Minister is right.
“At the end of the day we will get a far, far better railway. I am pleased that we are investing in the electrification of the railways, which the last government singularly failed to do.”
Speaking after the debate, Ms Hilling said now the government needs to act on its commitment.
She added: “I hope they will genuinely look into it, but also actually do something.
“We have this unprecedented investment but I don’t think the government is paying enough attention to the rolling stock. It’s a crisis across the north.”
Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton Council’s executive member for the highways and transport, said he and Ms Hilling had worked together with the train companies to get to this point.
He added: “Now we want to make sure we retain any rolling stock in the region.
“Somebody in central government has got to sign off for that money to be spent.”
Railway campaigner Preva Crossley said it was encouraging to see people backing The Bolton News campaign.
He added: “It is excellent news. “The next step is to really mither the Department for Transport to get something done.
“But it’s all coming into place, and the more people who come on board the more chance we have of succeeding.”
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