PROPOSALS that would have seen the borough’s railway stations transformed into community hubs, encompassing gyms, cafes and even art galleries have been rejected by the Government.

Earlier this year the region’s transport bosses put forward plans to transfer ownership of the regions stations to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

The ‘Case for Change’ report recommended wholesale transfer of station ownership as the best way to help stations realise their full potential.

It set out plans for long-term investment to allow stations to better integrate with the wider transport network, improve access to jobs and facilities and act as a catalyst for regeneration and social enterprise.

But Transport secretary Chris Grayling has now written to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to tell him the Government would not be adopting the plans.

Mr Burnham spoke of his ‘disappointment’ over the decision at a keynote speech to the Urban Transport Group.

He said: “Of the 97 stations in Greater Manchester , over 80 per cent of them are more than 100 years old and many have not changed much over that period. Around half of them are classed as inaccessible for disabled people.

This statistic alone makes the case for change.

“However, the Government has rejected our bid for all stations to be devolved and a follow up proposal for a smaller group of 12 stations to be an early phase.

“This is disappointing and I find it hard to accept that these plans were also resisted by rail organisations which have failed to invest in these stations over the years and forfeited the right to argue for the status quo.

The Transport Secretary has written to me to offer a partnership approach instead. This is not our preferred option, but as ever in GM we are prepared to be pragmatic and will see if it can be made to work.”

Jeff Davies, chairman of Bolton Rail Users Forum, said the group did not have a position on the plans but added: “Our only concern is that they’re run well and serve passengers needs, we will support anyone who does that.

But we are delighted Andy Burnham is now in charge of passenger transport and wants to improve things, he wants backing to the hilt on that.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “All stations across the rail network must be high-quality and accessible, and we believe the railway will work best where track and train are brought together to deliver as one team.

“That is why we have invited the Mayor of Greater Manchester to discuss how we can work together to achieve this, as well as seeing what we can learn for stations across the rest of the UK.”