New contractors have been appointed to complete the railway bridge construction between Bolton and Wigan as part of the electrification of the trainline.

The works at Ladies Lane Bridge have  said to have caused huge amounts of traffic in the area because of diversions through Westhoughton.

The Bolton News reported that that the Buckingham Group, which was carrying out the works for Network Rail, had gone into administration and works were  put on  pause.

Now Network Rail has now appointed J Murphy and Son Ltd as its new contractor. 

The work had been due to be completed by September 1.

According to the rail company eight days were lost due to Buckingham Group ceasing trading but they said the road closure should be removed on September 3, with only two days of delays.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “As you may be aware, eight days of construction time was lost between Buckingham Group ceasing trading and J Murphy and Sons being contracted to complete the work at Ladies Lane, Hindley.

“Our new contractor has assessed the work completed by their predecessor and is making good progress with the remaining work.

“The lost time has impacted the reopening of Ladies Lane slightly and the road closure will now be removed on the 3rd September.

“The road will be open to traffic only and pedestrians will continue to use the temporary footbridge, whilst we complete the footpaths.

“We expect news on the appointment of administrators or the sale of Buckingham Group within the next week.

“Once we know the outcome and are able to assess the impact on the rest of the project further updates will be shared with you.”

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The roads have been busier in Westhoughton due to traffic avoiding the road closure on Ladies Lane in Hindley where Network Rail are carrying out bridgeworks which have taken longer than expected.

“Because of this, we have reduced roadworks on the main routes in Westhoughton where possible to essential works only. Some of the works that are taking place are so substantial that they can’t be just carried out during off peak periods. They are also taking place during the school holidays when there is less traffic on the roads.”

The construction company is responsible for the work on a number of schemes, including the electrification of a 6.5-mile stretch of the railway line between Bolton and Wigan, announced by the then-Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris two years ago and scheduled to end in 2025. It is to allow for the replacement of diesel trains by electric trains.

The Bolton to Wigan electrification scheme involves the addition of lines to carry 25,000 of electricity as well as the alteration of bridges and crossings to allow for the installation of these lines. It affects railway stations inside the borough such as Lostock and Westhoughton and railway stations outside the borough such as Hindley and Ince.

Network Rail is currently investing £78m to upgrade a six-mile stretch of railway between Wigan and Bolton to enable electric trains to serve the key North West towns in the future.

The £78m Wigan-Bolton electrification project was announced by the Department of Transport in September 2021 and is scheduled to be finished by 2025.

It will see:

  • 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions, and modifications to 17 bridges and two-level crossings.
  • Platform extensions at Hindley, Westhoughton and Ince stations to reduce overcrowding at peak times and cater for six-carriage trains in the future.
  • Providing train operators with more operational flexibility and bring this part of the rail network in line with recent upgrades to a train maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.

And for the complex web of overhead electric wires to be installed, alterations need to be made to 17 bridges along the route.

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