A REGIONAL railway interchange with a station where the HS2 rail route would pass under on the East Lancashire Road would get Leigh on track and provide transport solutions and an economic boost much farther afield.

Now the Transport for Leigh group wants the community to back their plans that would put Leigh at the hub of a transport network. On Thursday afternoon the plans were revealed at Leigh Sports Village.

Transport for Leigh spokesman Ged Tyrell said: "This is a 21st century low carbon transport solution. Leigh offers a natural meeting point for HS2 and the Liverpool-Manchester line.

"With massive increased demand from businesses and commuters it's vital to the town that we improve transport links to stop gridlock in the region. We believe rail is a critical part of the solution."

MP Andy Burnham MP and Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council spoke in support of the plan. The idea was also backed by St Helens MP Dave Watts, Leigh Centurions CEO Trevor Barton and applauded by Susan Williams, director of the North West Rail Campaign.

Mr Burnham said: "People in the north-west will be paying for HS2 through their taxes, getting all of the disruption but, as it stands, too few of the benefits.

"It makes no sense at all for high-speed trains to fly through the heart of the north-west without stopping, past the areas where most people live.

"This regional interchange on the Liverpool-Manchester axis makes complete transport sense and will open up HS2 to people across our region. We urge people to get behind this campaign.

"Even during these times of economic hardship demand for rail has shown a year on year increase. Large scale capital projects are one measure to take this country out of recession and grow the economy. Given this strategy, it makes absolute sense to build this station."

Lord Smith said : "The proposed interchange location in the Leigh conurbation is ideal. It offers easy access from the regions roads and motorways and takes advantage of linking the existing Manchester to Liverpool service to HS2 when it arrives."

Transport for Leigh has produced detailed costings, which demonstrate the the project is both achievable and affordable. Costing for the Leigh loop from the Liverpool-Manchester line and the station alongside the A580 would be £60m and a further £25m to create an HS2 station. Escalators would link the low level loop line station with the ground level HS2 with the A580 elevated. A car park for commuters' vehicles would be created to the west of the station south of the A580.

Mr Tyrrell said: "This is not pie in the sky. It will stimulate much needed economic growth. It is needed, it is wanted and it is certainly achievable.

"What we need now is a strong public show of support to get our station back. This is critical to provide the capacity for economic growth and mobility this area desperately needs, allowing the abundance of creativity and enterprise rooted in this area to flourish and compete nationally and internationally."

*If you support Transport for Leigh's idea you can sign an e-petition at transportforleigh.org.uk