A new £46m train depot is to be built in Wigan as part of the Great North Rail Project.
With the number of passengers set to double in the north over the next 25 years, more depots are needed to enable the more frequent services and additional trains planned by 2020.
At Springs Branch railway sidings in Ince-in-Makerfield, Network Rail is adapting an existing freight yard to stable and maintain 24 electric and eight diesel trains – creating almost 20 jobs in the process.
The location provides easy access to the electrified rail network and the state-of-the-art depot will provide more flexibility for Northern to move their trains across the north overnight in preparation for services the next day. It 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.”
Ben added: “We look forward to working with Network Rail on this project which is clear evidence, not only of partnership railway in action, but also of the economic benefit the railway brings to the region.”
Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council, welcomed the news, commenting: “This new train depot is a key component of our economic strategy, building on Wigan’s excellent connectivity to establish the borough as a key transport hub for the North of England. It will bring growth and jobs to the residents of Ince and the wider borough.”
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.
Preparation work started on 9 April and project completion is planned for December 2019.