TRANSPORT secretary Stephen Hammond has hinted a deal is on the cards to draft in more carriages to ease Bolton’s "cattle-truck" trains.
During a special debate on the rolling stock provision in the north of England, Mr Hammond admitted there is a “short-term mismatch” in the number of carriages needed, as operators prepare for electrification of the railway lines.
It follows a meeting he held with Bolton’s three MPs last week as part of The Bolton News’ Let’s Get Back On Track campaign, where they discussed possible ways to address to the town’s crowded trains.
Mr Hammond said he understood the frustrations of commuters but that improvements were on the way as part of the government’s £1 billion investment of rail in the north.
He added: “I met honourable members from Bolton last week and I understand the difficulties being faced by passengers on that route.
“I am confident that an agreement will shortly be released whereby electric rolling stock will operate some services between Manchester and Liverpool from December.
“This will allow diesel trains to be released to address the capacity issues for Bolton and the Todmorden curve.”
The Bolton News presented a petition to Number 10 Downing Street last week with almost 1,500 signatures calling on the government to take action on Bolton’s overcrowded carriages.
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, spoke during the debate urging the minister to take action.
She told MPs how she had been contacted by several constituents who had lost their jobs because they could not get on the trains in time for work, due to overcrowding.
Ms Qureshi told the meeting: “Trains from Bolton to Manchester are incredibly overcrowded — people have to give up on getting on one or two trains before they can get on one.
“We need more trains. The trains running from Bolton to Manchester are dangerous.”