Counting the cost as busy road reopens

Photo Neil Cross'Jonathan, from J Seas chippy on Harpers Lane, Chorley, celebrating the reopening of the road
Photo Neil Cross'Jonathan, from J Seas chippy on Harpers Lane, Chorley, celebrating the reopening of the road

Relieved traders will celebrate this Friday when a railway bridge reopens – after nearly six months.

It will not be a minute too soon for the shopkeepers at the bottom of Harpers Lane, Chorley, who say they have suffered badly as a result of the closure.

Network Rail warned earlier this year that roads would be closed for weeks to allow the electrification of the railway line.

The plans included changes at 10 bridges in the borough – including Harpers Lane – and involved track lowering, which will also resulted in trains being diverted.

According to beleaguered traders at Harpers Lane, it has been a bridge too far.

Jonathan Cartwright, owner of J Seas fish and chip shop, said; “It’s been a pain with no passing trade. They’ve taken car parking away from us and clogged up the road with machinery.

“The longer people don’t pass our front door, they forget you. We’ve lost more than 50 per cent of the takings.”

In that time Jonathan has fought another battle – a personal one against cancer, undergoing an operation in June.

“The business was working and now it’s upset me severely, personally,” said Jonathan.

“But I’ll bring the customers back, I’m determined.”

He was loyal to his staff during the work, too.

“We’ve managed to keep the staff on the same hours as they were,” he said.

Tony Evans, who owns Paradise Pets, said: “It’s been horrendous due to the turnover and lack of customers.

“Sometimes I’ve only had two or three customers in.”

Sue Berry, of the Bargain Booze shop, said: “It has been difficult, but we’re just looking forward to it reopening.”

The traders said they expect they will not see any compensation for the loss of earnings they have suffered.

Other bridges affected by the works included Brooke Street, Stump Lane, Lyons Lane and Railway Road,
Adlington.

In most cases, they have had to be rebuilt so they are high enough to fit the train and overhead wires through as well as the pantograph, which attaches the train to the cables.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, a supporter of the electrification, said: “The electrification will allow for extra capacity on the crowded trains and will mean new investment in carriages.

“The problems caused by the works in the short-term will be negated in the long-term by the benefits of the improvements.”