ELECTRIC trains are operating in Bolton for the first time, nearly a decade after preparation first began and have been declared “a new dawn for Bolton”.

The Class 319 trains have been brought in from other parts of the North and are set to become a common sight, offering more seats, as well as faster, more reliable services.

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, said customers should expect an upgrade on the services they have experienced recently.

“These trains that we are on now, they are greener, they are more spacious, more reliable and more efficient,” he said.

“It’s providing a transformative experience for customers who, let’s be honest have had a difficult time of late. This is the beginning of a complete transformation here over to electrical and new trains.”

The infrastructure needed to run electrically powered stock has taken years to build, with plans repeatedly disrupted by major setbacks.

Meanwhile, passengers in Bolton have struggled with some of the worst services in the country, with last May’s national timetable change creating a huge number of delays and cancellations.

Since that time, commuters have contended with extremely busy services at peak times, ongoing strike action and trains first brought into service in the 1970s.

However, from this week passengers travelling between Bolton and Manchester Victoria are likely to see refurbished Class 319 trains, the precursors to a completely new fleet which is due to enter service by Spring.

The new trains have a capacity of around 350 seats, depending on the layout, and use a minimum of four carriages, meaning they are unlikely to be short-formed.

They began operating on the newly electrified railway on Monday, and Northern says electrical trains currently account for a third of all journeys between Manchester Victoria and Preston and half of those to Buckshaw Parkway.

Duncan Law, is a principle sponsor for Network Rail, the organisation which has been responsible for the long-suffering electrification programme.

He pointed to the damage at Moses Gate railway bridge — which caused enormous road and rail disruption in August 2017 after a burst pipe caused the road to collapse — and the re-boring of Farnworth tunnel in 2015 in order to create more space.

He said: “I couldn’t be any more pleased, this particular stretch of the railway has presented an awful lot of challenges to us, not least since the Carillion collapse.

“It’s not far off 10 years in the running from getting the money to actually completing the job.”

He added: “Railway projects are, by definition, quite challenging. We continually say how grateful we are for people bearing with us and working with us.”

Yesterday, the first images of the Trinity Gateway development was released, part of Bolton Council’s town centre regeneration plan.

Cllr Linda Thomas, Bolton Council leader, said improved train services were a vital component of the projects.

“It’s important because when we say somewhere is a place of destination we are talking about tourism,” she said. “We want somewhere where residents have easy access but we also want to bring people in from elsewhere. We have got to have trains to carry people on and we have to have sufficient carriages to carry people.”