TRAIN companies in the running to operate services through Bolton have been announced by the government. 

Six bidders have been shortlisted to run the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises spanning the north of England. 

As part of the public consultation, which closed this week, Bolton Council asked the Department for Transport for a return of Scottish services through Bolton. 

Since December, trains running to Edinburgh and Glasgow were diverted via Wigan, resulting in one less service to and from Manchester every hour. 

Cllr David Chadwick, the cabinet member in charge of transport, said: “The council has written to the Department for Transport to say it is a council priority to get back the Scottish services through Bolton. 

“I have argued that Wigan had very good Scottish services even before the Bolton trains were diverted, serving both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and it’s Wigan’s aspiration to maintain the link between Scotland and Manchester. 

“It’s not Bolton versus Wigan. Wigan can still have a direct link to Manchester by re-jigging the timetables.” 

In the running for the Northern franchise are current operator Abellio Northern Ltd; Arriva Rail North Ltd which manages services in Wales; and Govia, which operates services in the south. 

First Trans Pennine Express have applied to run the TransPennine Express franchise again, while European-wide Keolis and Stagecoach Transpennine Express Trains Limited have also submitted bids. 

Rail minister Claire Perry said the new operators will have to prove how they will tackle overcrowding on the railways, upgrade rolling stock and run faster, more efficient services — all issues brought to light by The Bolton News’ Let’s Get Back on Track campaign. 

She added: “Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.” 

Invitations for tender are scheduled to take place in December.