A TRANSPORT group has launched a scathing attack on Bolton’s plans for a new bus and rail interchange.

The Greater Manchester Transport Campaign said its £25 million price tag is too expensive and the money could be better spent.

The interchange is among a package of transport improvements planned for the borough as part of a £3 billion Government investment across Greater Manchester, if congestion charge proposals get the go-ahead.

But the Transport Campaign says the new interchange should not hinge on the congestion charge.

Tony Fawthrop, chairman of the Manchester-based group, said: “A new interchange could be built for half the money that is being proposed.

“We should concentrate on making it easy to use and passenger friendly. We are not against an interchange, but a similar station is being built at Mansfield and that is costing £10 million, so I cannot understand how Bolton can justify spending £25 million."

The interchange would be built on land between Great Moor Street, Newport Street, Trinity Street and Blackhorse Street by 2012. It would see a new bus station built closer to the existing railway station, with a covered walkway linking the two.

Council officials believe it is crucial to the ambitious redevelopment of the town centre, which will also see a £11 million public swimming pool, health centre, magistrates court and cinema built.

Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s executive member for environment, said: “If the Transport Innovation Fund bid is successful, then there will be investment in train rolling stock and more buses.

“The interchange is something we need and it will be a state-of-the-art building, but it must be accessible and user friendly."