LEIGH MP Andy Burnham has welcomed the announcement of key transport projects.

The Leigh area is set for a multi-million investment bonanza in public transport following a ministerial announcement in parliament.

The Transport Infrastructure Fund (TIF) package will see the introduction of:

  • An express busway from Leigh to Manchester operating on a separate track to general traffic ensuring much quicker progress
  • More seats on trains running through Atherton and increased capacity on trains travelling through Bolton
  • Multi-million pound refurbishment of railway stations including improvements at Hindley.

Plans to develop Golborne Station are also included in the package announced and both Makerfield MP Ian McCartney and Andy Burnham will meet rail bosses to take the development further.

Expert opinion put one job in seven at risk if nothing was done to tackle growing road congestion by 2021 and the economic case for change was one of five key tests that Mr Burnham had to be satisfied had been met before backing the £2.5billion investment.

He said: “I know that this package of measures will be of key public debate. I have listened to expert opinion and the views of local people and I would never jeopardise the future prosperity of the Leigh area by supporting a package that would put jobs at risk or fail to deliver on key public transport improvements.

“To ensure that people have real choices over how and when they travel, the majority of these improvements are planned to be delivered before the introduction of the local congestion charge in 2013. The charging scheme will operate only at peak times, when congestion is at its worst.

“That’s why I set five key tests to satisfy myself that the package of measures announced were not jeopardising the future of the Leigh area.

“In particular I welcome the inclusion of a rail station for Golborne and the dedicated bus route to Manchester. These are two key projects which I have campaigned for since my election in 2001. We have had a hell of a job to get Golborne station.

"I want to thank all those who signed petitions and put pen to paper in support of a rail station for Golborne and both Ian McCartney and I will be meeting rail bosses in the near future to progress this issue.

“I also welcome the additional investment in rail services from Atherton and the improvements announced for Hindley railway station. These are both key issues which have been a feature of my constituency casework.

“I am satisfied that detailed analysis shows the combined package of investment in public transport and congestion charging would deliver far greater benefits to the region's economic growth and quality of life than either investment or a charging scheme alone.”