East Lancs railway extension back on the table

Network Rail is to draw up a feasibility study to extend the East Lancashire Heritage Railway from Heywood to Castleton, nearly 10 years after the proposals were first put forward.

The proposals to extend the railway between Heywood and Castleton were first mooted by the East Lancashire Railway Trust in 2009, as part of a plan for the railway’s future to 2020.

In 2014, Rochdale Council said it was working through a masterplan for the Heywood and Castleton areas, including supporting improvements around Castleton station and the extension of the heritage railway to the town.

The existing heritage railway runs for 12 miles between Heywood, Bury, Ramsbottom, and Rawtenstall, and has been running since 2003.

Plans to extend the railway have been discussed for a number of years, the latest development being in late 2017 when reports were carried out by Network Rail to see whether existing structures and track could support trains. Now, Network Rail has been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study for the line between Heywood and Castleton, including signalling and timetabling.

The study, expected to cost around £200,000, runs up to Network Rail’s GRIP stage three, which includes feasibility and the options for the route, but does not include detailed design or construction. The extension would also include a new platform at Castleton for heritage trains.

Funding is yet to be secured for the extension but in 2014 Rochdale Council said works would likely be supported by Section 106 contributions from major housing sites nearby.

Your Comments

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that would b brilliant

By Steve brown

£200,000 and all you get is a tacky report.And then we wonder why there is no money?

By shaun

Brilliant! I really hope it progresses. Would be a good link for locals to use and would help revitalise a couple of the local valleys.

By Peter

The railway has been running for a lot longer than 2003 – that was just the Heywood extension.. more like 1987 when the ELR commenced operating trains, first to Ramsbottom (1987), then Rawtenstall in the early 90’s. I really hope the Castleton extension plan finally gets the green light and some real firm progress – it would be fantastic for bringing further tourism to towns/villages along the Irwell Valley and a vital transport link for the local area

By Trev

it’s going to need someone to drive it forward or it will stop in
a siding with plenty of talk and not much else

By glen

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