Network Rail has started converting a freight yard in Wigan into a £46m train depot, to maintain 24 electric and eight diesel trains.
With the number of passengers set to double in the North over the next 25 years, Network Rail said more depots are needed to enable the more frequent services and additional trains planned by 2020.
The depot will be locating at Springs Branch railway sidings in Ince-in-Makerfield.
The location provides access to the electrified rail network and the depot will provide more flexibility for Northern to move its trains across the North overnight in preparation for services the next day. The depot will be brought into use from December 2019.
Lauren Jones, scheme project manager at Network Rail said: “At Springs Branch sidings, we’re investing £46m to enhance an existing site by the West Coast main line by building brand new train maintenance facilities for Northern.
“This brand new depot, which forms part of the Great North Rail Project, not only delivers a jobs boost for Greater Manchester, but the facilities it will provide will help transform passenger journeys across the north.”
Ben Ackroyd, engineering director at Northern, said: “The new maintenance depot is a key part of our wider modernisation programme.
“By 2020 we will have retired all Pacers, refurbished our entire fleet and, of course, will have introduced our brand new electric and diesel trains. We will need state-of-the-art facilities to look after these trains and Springs Branch is a key part of this.”
The development will see the installation of new overhead line equipment to power the electric trains. It will also include staff accommodation, train washing and fuelling capabilities.