THE £600 million Northern Hub project could help ease Bolton’s “cattle truck” trains, it is hoped.

Chancellor George Osborne MP marked the start of construction of a fourth platform at Manchester Airport station — the first phase of a series of improvements at stations across the north of England.

Included in the work is the addition of two new platforms at Manchester Victoria, which will enable more trains travelling through the city, to Bolton and beyond.

Along with Network Rail’s electrification programme — expected to be completed along the Bolton corridor by December 2016 — it means more than £1 billion will be invested in railways in the north of England by 2019.

Mr Osborne said the Northern Hub was a key infrastructure project, which will create billions for the region.

He added: “Each part of this project, like the first work at Manchester Airport station, will help us build the infrastructure we need to compete in the global race.

“This investment will ensure growth is not concentrated in any one place by keeping Britain connected and creating thousands of local jobs, delivering a brighter economic future for the whole country.”

Since December The Bolton News has been campaigning for better services on the town’s railway, and to bring back axed rush-hour services.

The Northern Hub — expected to be completed in 2019 — will enable 700 more trains to run each day across the north of England, providing space for an extra 44 million passengers a year.

Cllr David Chadwick, the executive member for transport for Bolton Council and a committee member for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), welcomed the start of the project.

He said: “It’s going to be fantastic news because clearly passenger numbers are going up year on year.

“It’s not just Bolton that will benefit — the trains will run up north and along with the electrification programme it will allow trains to run at faster speeds along the Bolton corridor.”

Construction of the fourth platform at Manchester Airport will take place between March 14 and April 7, 2014, and will include two weekend closures of the railway at Manchester Airport on March 14 and 15 and April 5 and 6.

First TransPennine Express, Northern Rail and Arriva Train Wales services into and out of Manchester Airport station will be affected and replaced by bus services over the two weekend closures.