Bolton Rail Users Group

Supporting Bolton Rail Users

Getting Better Trains and Services

Ending Overcrowding

Services restored after station works and Moses Gate bridge repairs

For latest news and further information about this and other happenings, see STOP PRESS on our News page.

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About Us

Supporting Bolton Rail Users

We exist solely to help people who use Bolton’s rail services. Our members get:

  1. regular news and updates,
  2. a listening ear to their concerns and experiences
  3. a channel for their views and suggestions
  4. a voice that speaks for them to the rail companies and government bodies

We push constantly for a solution to the problems - the overcrowded trains, not enough of them, and not enough carriages.

We maintain close links with the train companies, especially Northern. 

We keep Bolton’s needs at the forefront of their minds. 

We monitor their progress towards the transformed railway which they have promised and their franchise agreement with the Department for Transport and Rail North requires them to deliver.

Better Trains and Services

For well over a decade the Government, through its control of the franchise, prevented the operators of the Northern services from obtaining any new trains. They argued that rail travel in the north was declining.  In fact it more than doubled over the period.  

But the refusal to allow new trains still continued. No doubt this was convenient to the Government by keeping the amount of subsidy down.  However it was the direct cause of today’s problems.  

In 2015 the Government saw the light, after a lot of pressure. Both of the new North of England rail franchises, Northern and TransPennine Express, are now based on growth and require the companies to make massive investment in trains and service improvements.  TransPennine Express's Glasgow and Edinburgh services will also be serving Bolton again from December 2017.

So we now stand on the threshold of a new era. 

The operating companies will be: 

  • putting  into service hundreds of new and refurbished trains
  • disposing of the much disliked, half bus, half freight truck "Pacer" units
  •  lengthening some trains; and 
  • introducing new and extended services.  

At the same time, much needed infrastructure work is being undertaken by Network Rail, including:

  • electrifying the Manchester line; and
  •  restoring Bolton Station's platform 5, removed as an economy measure by British Rail in the 90s.

Exciting times!  

But only if Northern allocate enough of the additional trains, services and carriages to the Bolton lines.  We are therefore now pressing hard in discussions with Northern to secure that.  The company know about Bolton, it’s a very important line for them and they want to do what they can.  But resources are finite, other lines too have overcrowding and no commitments are possible at this stage. 

We nevertheless remain optimistic. We will keep in contact with Northern, watch developments and continue to make the case. 


This is the most important task for the Group between now and May 2018, when a radically recast timetable is to come into operation.

The new trains will start to appear in 2018.  The full fleet is expected to  be complete by the end of 2019, by which time all the Pacers will have been withdrawn.

Ending Overcrowding - Add your Voice

We are a "not for profit" community body. We operate on a minimum cost basis.   

Membership is free.  We charge no subscription.  Our policy is to operate on voluntary donations only.


 We don’t make demands on your time either. You don’t have to come to meetings or do any work for us if you don’t wish to.

The Group is led by people with good understanding of rail services, the structure of the rail industry and how it works. We understand the causes of the current massive overcrowding. We know what needs to be done to eliminate it, including what’s feasible and what isn’t.  So we are well equipped to press convincingly for what Bolton’s rail users need. 

If you are a user (whether often or only occasionally) of any rail service that starts, terminates or calls at any station within the Bolton Metropolitan Borough, you are eligible to join us.  If you like what we are doing, may we ask that you become a member and add your voice? 

The more members we have, the more influence we have.


To join, just fill in the form below, then click "SEND".  There is nothing to pay.

We will safeguard the personal information you supply in accordance with our data protection policy, which you can read by following the link on the navigation bar at the top of this page.


Come Aboard!

Apply For Membership Online - Free of Charge

If you have any questions about the Group or need assistance with the form,  feel free to contact us: 

Bolton Rail Users Group

01204 412503 or 07770 855888

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