Passengers will be able to travel by train between Bolton and Manchester next week when the line reopens early after a burst water main caused major damage to a bridge.
The Moses Gate railway bridge, near Bolton, was badly damaged on 17 August when the burst pipe caused a section of it to collapse onto the railway below and created a hole in the road above.
Thanks to a carefully executed repair programme and round-the-clock working, the line is due to fully reopen on Wednesday 6 September.
The railway was originally expected to be impacted for several weeks.
Andy Morgan, senior sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We have worked round-the-clock to repair the damaged bridge so we can get passengers back onto trains as normal between Bolton and Manchester as soon as possible.
“Repairing the water-damaged bridge has been a complex engineering challenge which included rebuilding a large section of wall which supports the bridge. Thankfully we have been able to fast track some of the work so Northern can run a full train service again from Wednesday 6 September.
“We continue to work with Bolton Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and United Utilities to safely finish the repairs and I thank passengers and local people for their ongoing patience.”
Liam Sumpter, Northern regional director, said: “We look forward to welcoming customers back to Bolton on Wednesday as we restart a full train service for journeys into Manchester.
“We want to thank all of our customers for their help and understanding as we’ve worked through the challenges of the Moses Gate situation.”
Before the water main burst, the railway through the area was already closed because of upgrade work at Bolton station as part of the Great North Rail Project. The station and railway between Bolton and Manchester was due to open on Monday 28 August. The work at the station – which included remodelling of the tracks, station platforms and signalling systems - was completed on time as planned and is part of plans to upgrade and electrify the railway to provide passengers with better, more reliable trains.
The bus replacement services which are currently in operation will continue until the railway reopens on Wednesday 6 September. Customers can plan and check their journeys at www.nationalrail.co.uk or go to Twitter @northernassist or www.journeycheck.com/northern for the latest travel advice.
Work to stabilise the embankment and complete repairs to the bridge will continue at Moses Gate. Although a completion date for work to the road is yet to be confirmed it is expected reopen within the original six week estimate.