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.