PLANS for a railway station to be built to serve Leigh and Lowton could be back on track, admit transport bosses.
Residents and politicians have long been campaigning for a station to return to Kenyon Junction and reconnect parts of the borough to the rail network.
The junction and Leigh station both closed in 1969 and proposals for new railway links in the borough were rejected in favour of £68 million being spent on building the guided busway.
But Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has now revealed that it will be preparing a 10-year transport plan after the city region's first mayor has been elected next month and that a new railway station at 'Kenyon Junction will be considered'.
Lowton East Cllr James Grundy said: "Last year we invited TfGM representations to speak to residents in Lowton about the Kenyon Junction plans.
"As a result of that meeting they are considering Kenyon Junction in its 10-year forward plan which will be published after the mayoral election.
"We are delighted at this progress. It is something we have wanted for a long time and is really heartening.
"It is by no means a certainty yet and there is a lot of work to do.
"But the fact that we are being listened to at last is fantastic.
"If this comes off we will be able to get the people of Leigh mainline railway access for the first time in over a generation.
"We have been too busway focused and it has not resolved all our problems."
Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (LENDF) chairman Ed Thwaite has been campaigning for a station to built at Kenyon Junction for five years.
He says reconnecting Leigh, Lowton and other areas to regular railway services to Manchester and Liverpool is a 'no-brainer'.
"As we know there is no railway station in Leigh and Lowton and surrounding areas and this needs to change," he says.
"In fact something should have been done about it years ago.
"It would mean people could get much easier access to Manchester and Liverpool and the cost would be very little in comparison to other projects.
"We already have an active line that runs through the area, so we just need the station now.
"With all the new housing projects being approved in the area there will obviously be even more traffic. A new station would help with that significantly.
"This would also be vital in cutting pollution and congestion.
"A pod station at Kenyon Junction would cost around £6.5 million to build and there is enough land to fit 1,000 car parking spaces there too.
"It is basically one field away from the end of the Atherleigh Way bypass where it joins the East Lancashire Road."
A TfGM spokesman said: “We are constantly working with industry partners to plan and develop rail services for Greater Manchester and its residents.
"As part of our drive to ensure the very best rail network we are currently developing a 10-year strategic plan.
“The plan will also assess the current Greater Manchester rail station estate and any evidence based aspirations for its future growth and development.
"We will also be assessing all new station proposals for heavy rail on a fair and consistent basis, in which Kenyon Junction will be considered."
Mr Thwaite says a station at Kenyon Junction could serve Culcheth, Glazebury, Lowton and Golborne and have a regular shuttle bus to Leigh.
But he fears the amount of money that has been invested in the guided busway could be an insurmountable stumbling block.
He said: "The busway would become less viable if the railway is built so I am not confident it will be approved because of the amount of money spent on it.
"Of course we are very hopeful it will happen because the old station had a great history and we would be looking to open a museum there to celebrate that too."