A RAILWAY bridge in Hindley will soon be demolished and replaced as part of line electrification works.

Network Rail has announced that this will be the next phase of major work to electrify the railway between Wigan and Bolton. This is part of a £78m investment to upgrade the 6.5-mile stretch of railway to enable electric trains to serve the key North West towns in the future.

Wigan Council’s decision to approve the plans in November 2022 came despite objectors raising questions over whether the historic bridge on Ladies Lane, which was built in the 1840’s, should be protected from a heritage point of view alongside fears over traffic disruption. 

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The authority was required to approve the proposals, however, as under planning law, railway companies have the powers to carry out any work that is deemed necessary for ‘making, maintaining, altering or repairing and using the railway’. In preparation for the installation of high-voltage overhead electricity cables, alterations need to be made to 17 railway structures.

Ladies Lane bridge will be replaced between Monday, March 13 and Friday, July 14 when the road will be closed. During those dates Hindley station will also be shut so its platforms can be extended to increase capacity for passengers.

A six-day railway closure will also be needed between Saturday, May 6 and Friday, May 12.

Leigh Journal: Hindley railway station, on Ladies LaneHindley railway station, on Ladies Lane (Image: Google Maps)

During that time, replacement buses will be in place between Wigan North Western, Westhoughton, Daisy Hill, Ince and Lostock. Road diversions and bus routes will also be implemented during the construction period which is hoped to take place during school holidays, a highways report stated. 

A total of 17 structures like this bridge and Chew Bridge in Westhoughton (that was undertaken in 2022) will need to be overhauled to make way for overhead lines. The major investment will ensure that older diesel trains can be replaced by cleaner and longer electric rolling stock.

Work to bring disruption to commuters

Claire Davis, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “We’re progressing with this major project to electrify the railway between Wigan and Bolton and bring cleaner, greener and longer trains in the future to this key route in the North West. This next phase of work will make sure Ladies Lane bridge will be compatible with the complex web of overhead wires when they are installed. 

“The work at Hindley Station and Ladies Lane bridge will bring some disruption to road users and rail passengers. I’d like to thank people in advance for their patience and to remind them to check before they travel while we carry out this important work to transform the railway for the future.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, added: “All investment in rail infrastructure that will improve the customer experience is very much welcomed. These alterations at Ladies Lane bridge are an important part of the electrification process of the Wigan to Bolton line and I’d like to thank passengers that would normally use Hindley station for their co-operation while the work is carried out.”