THE FIRST train station to be built in 25 years in Greater Manchester is just one Whitehall signature away.

Golborne Train Station is no “pie in the sky” idea according to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who is waiting on a sign-off from Government before the vision of regenerating his home town as a commuter hub can become a reality.

Both Burnham and Leigh’s MP James Grundy, despite being on opposite sides of the political track, have the same direction in mind for the station – which is to reconnect it to Manchester, improving connectivity just for the town itself, but the wider Leigh area.

READ > Metrolink for Leigh demanded to improve connectivity

Golborne, which sits on the border of Cheshire and Greater Manchester, had a station that closed fully in 1967 and the old platforms can still be seen today.

With no direct bus, train or tram services to Manchester, the isolated town on the edge of Wigan could see big regeneration benefits if a flagship station was to open.

Millions of pounds approved for development of new station

Leigh Journal: Arounf £17m has been approved to outline and develop the projectArounf £17m has been approved to outline and develop the project (Image: GMCA)

Despite the arrival of the Leigh Guided Busway in 2016, providing a new transport option for Leythers, the area around the Golborne end of the Leigh constituency is still “majorly underserved” for connectivity, according to Burnham. He and the Leigh MP believe there is a strong justification for the station to be built near High Street.

Back in January 2021, £16m was approved by Greater Manchester Combined Authority for the development and delivery of a new railway station at Golborne. An extra £1m has also been put on the table to establish the outline of the project, generate more proposals for funding, and scope how much it would cost to deliver and operate the development.

Leigh Journal: Andy Burnham has spoken of the benefits of a new station at GolborneAndy Burnham has spoken of the benefits of a new station at Golborne (Image: GMCA)

“Golborne, in the end, emerged as the most viable train station in all of Greater Manchester,” Mr Burnham said. “There was a station there that was closed and you can still see the platforms, not that they can be used, and basic structure around it.

“Golborne has a rock solid case for a station. It is now becoming quite clear.

“It has been sent to the Government for sign off. I prioritised it as mayor because of the very poor transport connectivity in that area – and if Metrolink isn’t coming anytime soon to the Wigan borough then it has to be the case to improve rail connectivity.

“This is not favouritism as it is majorly underserved and I declare the fact I do live around there, but TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) told me early on that Golborne is the station that has the strongest justification.

“We’re confident that we can return a service here and actually it could be one of the first Bee Network (integrated local transport) services. That would be one of the few stations that would effectively be entirely in our boundaries.

“Golborne station could be the flagship station of the rail Bee Network. It will be the first rail station built by GM in over 20 years (the last one was Horwich Parkway in 1998).”

MP support for new station

Leigh Journal: James Grundy has put his support behind a new station for GolborneJames Grundy has put his support behind a new station for Golborne (Image: James Grundy MP)

Leigh MP James Grundy believes the schedule for the new station, if approved, could see construction start in 2024 and be operational by 2025.

The Conservative MP explained that this line would run along the current West Coast Mainline that provides tracks for trains running between Glasgow Central and London Euston – meaning he could use it to get down to the House of Commons more easily.

“Golborne, which is the one that has come along first, has plans that are almost ready for final approval and they’ve already had £15m from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund,” Mr Grundy told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. “There are some engineering changes that need to be done so it can be where everyone wants it to be, which is the site of the old Golborne station.

“I am firmly convinced that it is going to get over the line. Hoping to get approval by the Government near the end of the year and construction in 2024 with completion in 2025.

“So hopefully in a couple of years from now you’ll be able to jump on a train at Golborne station, like I will, and go all the way down to London. It will make a lot of constituents’ life easier, my life easier and indeed Andy Burnham’s life easier.”

Is there scope for Golborne Station?

Leigh Journal: The new station would be built off High Street in GolborneThe new station would be built off High Street in Golborne (Image: Google Maps)

The vision for a station at Golborne is one of a series of options that would improve connectivity for the wider Leigh area.

Having attended a recent public meeting regarding the prospect of a new Golborne station, the GM Mayor and the Leigh MP both said there was a lot of positive feedback regarding the idea and the plans.

They admitted that Golborne, being at the very edge of the constituency, would not be very accessible for a resident in central Leigh given the bus services between the two towns not being as regular as in the past.

Leigh Journal: The station would aim to become a commuter hub for Golborne residentsThe station would aim to become a commuter hub for Golborne residents (Image: GMCA)

However, the Bee Network taking back control of the bus services in Wigan from September means they can arrange a timetable that can include shuttle buses to the station, Mr Burnham claims. An additional concern raised at the meeting included parking infrastructure and the congestion of traffic given the recent boom in house building in and around the town.

“The rail industry believes it would be heavily used straight away. So there is a strong business case for it,” Burnham explained.

“Issues for residents in Golborne include parking and flow of traffic but it is an opportunity to enhance Golborne as a centre. I’ve seen what this (transport infrastructure investment) has done for Newton and I see Golborne as the same.

“This is not a pie in the sky idea. I would like to see this station open in 2025. I will be writing to the government soon to get their final sign off.

Next stop Kenyon Junction?

Leigh Journal: There are hopes for another station at Kenyon Junction if the development of Golborne goes aheadThere are hopes for another station at Kenyon Junction if the development of Golborne goes ahead (Image: GMCA)

Mr Grundy is under the impression that with Golborne well on the way, this could open up the idea of getting another station which would serve Leigh at Kenyon Junction.

The station, off Kenyon Lane near Culcheth, over the Warrington border, was closed in 1963, with hopes it would return dashed due to local opposition in the 00s.

Now, with optimism around Golborne station, talks have hotted up when it comes to Kenyon Junction. This would run as an additional station on the Manchester-Liverpool line as the next station along from Newton-le-Willows.

A train station for Leigh?

Leigh Journal: The guided busway was built to better connect residents to Manchester in 2016The guided busway was built to better connect residents to Manchester in 2016 (Image: TfGM)

With old railway track having been destroyed, getting a train station back into the town’s heart is something that could be ‘decades away’, according to the town’s MP, James Grundy, even if it was given the green light.

And building railway track, knocking down homes to create space and funding the construction of the station would cost “tens of millions”, says Burnham.

But ‘never say never’ were the words of Mr Burnham, with James Grundy echoing a similar sentiment to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

However, both seemed to believe that Golborne and Kenyon Junction were the answers to delivering better transport for the people of Leigh.