DIRECT trains from Bolton to London Euston could be arriving soon.
Transport bosses at Bolton Council have been in contact with Virgin Trains to see whether it would consider extending its morning services from Manchester Piccadilly to Bolton train station.
It would mean commuters could get a direct train from Bolton before 7.15am straight into the heart of the capital.
At a town hall scrutiny committee, Cllr David Chadwick, cabinet member for public transport and a committee member at Transport for Greater Manchester, laid out his vision for the scheme.
He said: “We’ve already approached the subject with Virgin about bringing the Pendolino service out along the Bolton corridor before it goes to Piccadilly, prior to 7am or 7.15am.
“Clearly they are quite willing to look at it.”
Following concerns from Cllr Martin Donaghey that there needed to be a return journey in the evening, Cllr Chadwick added: “We have asked for both ‘out’ and ‘in’ and they seem to be considering that as a serious entity.
“We have asked for services early in the morning and in the evening back to Bolton.”
Bolton Council set up a taskforce to look into setting up a direct service between Bolton and London in October, after a request by Cllr Stuart Haslam was given the local authority’s backing.
The move has been celebrated by Emma Antrobus, transport policy manager at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
She said: “As a chamber, we are very supportive of ideas to improve connectivity on our rail network.
“We know that rail services to Bolton have been reduced in recent times, leading to greater problems of overcrowding.
“We also know that allowing the West Coast trains to go to different stations could be problematic as Virgin is operating on a management contract until the refranchising process starts in 2016.
“However, that gives plenty of time to investigate if there might be a business case to run extended services up to Bolton.
“There is currently a lot of investment going into the Northern Hub project to build capacity in the network and, along with electrification, this may have a greater impact on improving connections for Bolton than the West Coast mainline proposal.”
A spokesman for Virgin trains said negotiations were in the very early stages. He added: “We are actively looking at how we can develop our services to maximise benefits for customers in the North West following future electrification schemes..
“Amongst those is Bolton, but no decisions have been made yet.”
- THE scrutiny committee also heard how the same group is working towards restoring the Scottish services from Manchester Airport to Glasgow and Edinburgh through Bolton.
The First Transpennine Express (FTPE) trains were rerouted through Wigan in December in a move that ignited The Bolton News’ Let’s Get Back On Track campaign for a better train service in Bolton.
Cllr Chadwick said he was hopeful that FTPE would bring the trains back, arguing it was quicker and more efficient for the services to run through Bolton.
He added: “We are looking to see what we can do to enhance Bolton’s chances, and I’m doing my personal damndest — I’m getting up their noses to make sure they do the best for Bolton, and I have every confidence that we’ll succeed.”
- The British Class 390 Pendolino is one of the fastest trains operating in the country, with a top speed of 140mph.
- Dubbed ‘Pendolino’ from the Italian for ‘pendulum’, the tilting trains can go around curves at high speeds causing minimal discomfort to passengers.
- There are four trains an hour at peak times between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston, taking two hours and 10 minutes.