Bolton’s electric upgrade plans hit by new delay

Plans to introduce electric trains between Manchester and Bolton have been set back again with diesel services on the line to continue throughout the year, despite previous assurances electric trains would be running in May this year.

Poor ground conditions and delays to the completion of Network Rail’s Manchester to Preston line upgrade have had the knock on effect of pushing the electric trains project back, according to a report to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

The line had been due to be ready by May but “is now set to be ready later in the year, in advance of the rail industry’s December timetable change”, the report notes.

“As a result of delays to Bolton electrification, planned enhancements due to have been implemented in the May 2018 timetable change will now be deferred.”

The delays are the latest in a string of disruptions to the electrification plans. Services had been expected in December last year before being put back to May.

According to the council the original plan for May 2018 timetable enhancements had included the complete recast of existing timetable for all Northern and TransPennine Express services, additional off-peak services on many corridors, re-routing of some individual service groups, improved Sunday services and electric trains on the Bolton corridor with strengthened diesel services on other routes.

The revised plan will now feature an interim timetable for all Northern and TransPennine Express services including six trains-per-hour on the Manchester-Leeds line with the Ordsall Chord being used for two trains per hour; re-routing of some individual service groups and some small expected service improvements. TransPennine Express Scotland services continue to run via Chat Moss and Wigan.

Diesel services will also continue on Bolton corridor.

Commenting on the level of services last December, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “It is clear that services on the line between Manchester and Preston, via Bolton, have been completely unacceptable in recent months. People have experienced regular delays, cancellations and severe overcrowding,”

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