To prepare for the line between Wigan and Bolton to be electrified, 17 structures on the route need to be overhauled.
One of the structures is Chew Bridge in Westhoughton. It was removed on Sunday, 22 January and a new steel bridge will be installed in its place on Sunday, 19 February. The new bridge deck will be constructed of steel beams to better withstand heavy farm machinery and road vehicles, and will be finished with materials of similar colour to the existing bridge, in keeping with what was there before.
Whilst the work is in progress, rail replacement buses will operate between Wigan North Western and Bolton. Anyone planning to travel during this time should check http://www.nationalrail.co.uk in advance to see how their journey is affected.
The work is necessary so that 25,000-volt overhead cables can be installed underneath the bridge as part of the £78m electrification scheme along the 13 miles of railway. In total Network Rail is investing £2.3m on the route as part of the Great North Rail Project.
The investment will allow older diesel trains to be replaced by cleaner and longer electric rolling stock. By 2025, electric trains on the route will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable, and more reliable journeys.
Electrification of the Wigan to Lostock line was announced by the Department of Transport in September 2021 and is targeted for completion by 2025. It involves:
- construction of 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions;
- modifications to 17 bridges and two level crossings;
- extending the platforms at Hindley, Westhoughton, and Ince stations to reduce overcrowding at peak times and cater for six-carriage trains in the future;
- providing train operators with more operational flexibility to deploy trains to these parts of Wigan and Bolton from a recently-upgraded train maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.
William Brandon, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “This vital work on the bridge is one of the first pieces of the jigsaw needed to deliver the Wigan-Bolton electrification project. It makes room for new cables needed for the introduction of greener, cleaner and more reliable electric trains planned between Wigan North Western and Bolton in the future.
“The project does mean the railway will have to close over the two Sundays. I thank passengers and local people in advance for their patience while we carry out this vital work.”