BOLTON and Bury unlikely to benefit from plans to re-open train lines that have been closed for decades, rail users believe.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced yesterday that he wants to restore lines to help boost the economy, encourage house-building and ease overcrowding.

Thousands of stations and hundreds of branch lines were closed between 1964 and 1970 in the wake of a report by then British Railways chairman Dr Richard Beeching.

However, the chances of a rail link being restored between Bolton and Bury appear slim.

The line connecting the two towns, via Darcy Lever and Radcliffe, was closed in October, 1970.

Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “There are viaducts associated with that line which have not had trains running across them for 50 years, so that would be an obvious problem.

“There is a housing estate on that line in Radcliffe now, so you can see immediately that it would not be as easy to re-open some of these lines as the Government might say.

“It is all very well for Chris Grayling to say this, but the question is where the money would come from?

“When I think about my own ward, there used to be railway lines criss-crossing the Westhoughton area and there were two or three stations going up towards Chorley.

“But I can’t think of anywhere in Bolton that could be a viable option for re-opening a railway line.”

A decade ago, campaigners drew up plans to restore the Bolton to Bury rail link, with supporters saying that allowing freight to run on the line would also help reduce congestion to and from Manchester.

The Government says that a new development programme will identify opportunities to restore capacity which offer good value for money.

The Beeching report, which recommended taking an axe to about a third of the country’s rail network, also resulted in the loss of a rail link between Bolton and Wigan.

The Lostock Junction, which had platforms linking Bolton to both Wigan and Preston, was shut in 1966.

It later re-opened in 1988 as Lostock Parkway, though the Parkway part of the name was eventually dropped, but now only connects to Preston.

Jeff Davies, chairman of the Bolton Rail Users Group, added: “I don’t think this has been properly thought out.

“It costs a great deal to re-open closed railway lines, partly because of the number of buildings that have been built on top of them since the 1960s, and there is no indication of any funding sources that will be made available to do this.”

Mr Grayling said: “We recently announced that we expect around £47.9 billion to be spent on the railway between 2019 and 2024, of which we’re providing up to £34.7 billion directly to deliver a more reliable railway.

“Our investments will meet demand for more capacity on the network, adding new links, restoring lost capacity and connections, and supporting the Government’s Industrial and Housing Strategies.

“This will include continuing to look at opportunities to restore capacity lost under Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s, where this enables new housing or economic development, or eases congestion elsewhere on the transport system, and offers value for money.

“We will also bring more private sector finance, funding and expertise on board to help provide capacity for the future.”