THE collapse of construction giant Carillion will ‘certainly have some impact’ on electrification of the rail line through Bolton, the borough’s transport chief has warned.

The firm is Network Rail’s principal contractor on the Great North Project to upgrade the track between Manchester and Preston.

Work is continuing on the much-delayed scheme in the immediate aftermath of Carillion going into liquidation.

Network Rail bosses say they will be working closely with the official receiver, but that the full impact of Carillion’s meltdown would only become clear over the coming weeks.

The uncertainty has led to concerns that it could now be later next year before the first electric trains run through Bolton.

Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for special projects, transport and skills said: “Of course I’m concerned. While I realise there have been some problems with foundations, the potential that this could further impact on the rail electrification project appals me.

“It’s almost like the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The collapse of Carillion, which only had £29m in the bank when it collapsed under a £1.5bn debt pile, raises the prospect that the benefits of electrification could be delayed for passengers and businesses.

And those living along the line, including residents at Moses Gate, could be waiting even longer for an end to disruption.

Cllr Chadwick, who also sits on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, added: “I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but everything is up in the air at the moment.

“The outcome is still not clear from the government what the situation is, but obviously the whole thing is in the melting pot, being reviewed and discussed.

“Until Network Rail comes out with a definitive answer, we don’t know what the implication might be, but there will certainly be some impact on electrification.”

Carillion replaced former principal contractor Balfour Beattie 2016, but Cllr Chadwick refused to condemn Network Rail for the decision.

He said: “Balfour Beattie were very good. But at that time Carillion had the structural expertise.”

Cllr Chadwick also said that passengers were set to lose out as new carriages for electric trains had been ordered to run from December.

In turn, the old carriages would provide extra-capacity for diesel trains on non-electrified lines such as those to Clitheroe and Wigan.

Sir David Crausby, Bolton North East MP, has also expressed his concerns.

He said: “It’s a bit worrying really, but I’m constantly worried about the electrification project, there’s always something going wrong. It seems to be a project that’s plagued with one thing after another.

“I hope it won’t be delayed again, but I want to make sure it’s not. We keep getting promises over electrification, but we no sooner get one than they put it back by six or nine months. It goes on forever. We just want reassurances that this delay is the last delay.”

Sir David added that commuters had been denied the benefits of electrification for too long.

He said: “Electrification delivers more capacity, we put more trains on the line, and get more people on.

“I think that’s the major complaint of Bolton/Manchester commuters. People are being packed in like cattle, it’s completely unacceptable. We’ve all be expecting electrification to help us with that, so I don’t want anything else to go wrong.

“We’ve had so many promises broken over so many years, that I’ll believe it when I see it.

“There have always been very good reasons, but that doesn’t help very much if you have to commute to Manchester.”

On the decision to switch from Balfour Beattie to Carillion, Sir David added: “There have been plenty of profit warnings as far as Carillion is concerned, the powers that be should have taken more notice. Over a period of time it seems everyone expected this to happen except the Government.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Carillion’s work for Network Rail continues for the time being as Network Rail works with the official receiver and special manager to ensure the continuity of its project work.

"Passengers can be reassured that their services will be running as normal today as Carillion's work for Network Rail does not involve the day-to-day running of the railway.

"Our aim is to ensure, as far as possible, that this news has as little impact as possible on our projects to grow and expand the railway network."