Powering ahead: bridge upgrade for Wigan to Bolton electrification: Chew Bridge Westhoughton composite

Thursday 20 Jan 2022

Powering ahead: bridge upgrade for Wigan to Bolton electrification

Region & Route:
North West & Central
| North West & Central: North West

Passengers are being advised of upcoming changes to Sunday journeys between Wigan and Bolton to prepare for a major electrification upgrade.

Network Rail is investing £2.3m as part of the Great North Rail Project to build a new railway bridge high enough for 25,000-volt overhead cables to pass underneath.

The bridge rebuild is needed so a £78m electrification scheme along 13 miles of railway can take place.

The major investment will ensure that older diesel trains can be replaced by cleaner and longer electric rolling stock.

By 2025, the electric trains will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable, and more reliable journeys.

To make way for the overhead lines, seventeen structures – like Chew Bridge in Westhoughton – need to be overhauled.

It will be removed on Sunday 23 January and a new steel bridge will be built in its place on Sunday 20 February.

On both days passengers will be kept on the move by rail replacement buses* between Wigan North Western and Bolton.

Anyone planning to travel is urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk in advance to see how their journey is affected.

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.”

Plans to build the new bridge in Westhoughton were approved by Bolton Council in May 2021.

The new deck will be made up of steel beams to better withstand heavy farm machinery and road vehicles.

The bridge will also be finished with materials of a similar colour to the existing bridge in keeping with what was there before.

Notes to Editors

  • The £78m Wigan-Lostock electrification project was announced by the Department of Transport in September 2021 and is targeted to complete by 2025.
  • It involves:
    • 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions, and modifications to 17 bridges and two-level crossings.
    • Platform extensions 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 the recently upgraded train maintenance facility at Wigan Springs Branch.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
07740 782954

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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