PLANS to re-open the rail link to Horwich are steaming ahead. Enthusiasts met this week - the 3Oth anniversary of the line's closure - and decided to launch a campaign to revive the town's railway.

The campaign has been organised by four friends - all rail enthusiasts who rode in the last train out of Horwich to Bolton on September 25, 1965.

The organisers have arranged a public meeting to officially launch the campaign on October 24 at Horwich Resource Centre, Beaumont Road.

The meeting, partly to gauge the strength of public opinion, will be chaired by Cllr Kevan Helsby leader of the town council who is also a Bolton councillor and a member of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority.

The plan is the dream of former Bolton man Dr Paul Salveson, Secretary of an Independent Rail Operators organisation, and his colleagues Steve Leyland and Lee Johnson, of Bolton and Vernon Sidlow, of Horwich. It is being developed for a West Pennines Community Railway which will run from Horwich via Bolton to Manchester and beyond.

"The title of the campaign will be Horwich Rail Link, we think it sums up what it's all about - an environment friendly link between Horwich and the rest of the country," said Dr Salveson, a former employee of the Horwich Loco Works and now director of the Transport, Research and Information Network.

"It will be ideal both for commuters travelling into Manchester, and for visitors coming to Rivington and Anglezarke".

The scheme will involve the building of a new station, possibly on a site near the fire station off Chorley New Road, and the laying of miles of new tracks. The cost of the plan has not yet been finalised.

"It is still early days but we think we will need about £5 million," said Mr Leyland.

"We aren't doing this for sentimental reasons, it will be a modern railway with a social and economic purpose," he added.

Mr Sidlow said: "It's a practical scheme which will provide a real alternative to the car and bring new jobs into Horwich."

The meeting starts at 7.30pm when all will be welcome. For further details ring Mr Leyland on 01204 526165 .

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