Portillo joins calls for Irlam heritage line

Former government minister and TV rail documentary presenter, Michael Portillo, joined with Talk Talk founder and local philanthropist Neil McArthur to launch a proposal for the opening of a heritage railway, pedestrian and cycle route on a viaduct between Irlam and Timperley.

The proposal would involve bringing six miles of disused railway track back into use as steam railway, similar to the popular East Lancashire Railway, and the creation of a cycle and pedestrian route adding 8.5m miles to the National Cycle Network.

McArthur previously invested £2m in the refurbishment of Station House at Irlam where the press conference on Tuesday took place.

The line lost its passenger service in 1964 and the freight service ended in 1984 with the closure of the Cadishead viaduct over the Manchester Ship Canal.

The re-opening of the line, believes Neil McArthur, would be both a tourist attraction similar to the popular 20km Bury-based East Lancashire Railway, and also bring together on cycle, on foot and by train, the communities of Partington and Carrington in Trafford, and Irlam and Cadishead in Salford.

Irlam To Timperley Heritage Railway Proposal Cadishead Viaduct

Design showing how line could be used in future

Network Rail currently owns the line but said it lacks the funds to maintain the disused Cadishead viaduct which McArthur is keen to redevelop.

McArthur estimated the cost of the proposal at between £25m and £30m. The Hamilton Davies Trust, which was founded by Neil and Anne McArthur in 2004 with the aim of supporting the local communities of Irlam and Cadishead in Salford, is funding feasibility studies into the Cadishead project.

McArthur has met with stakeholders Trafford Council, Salford Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail, the Association of Community Rail Partnerships and Sustrans, the body responsible for the nation’s cycle network, and said a steering group had now been developed.

A key part of the proposal is reopening the 1.5km branch line from Irlam Station to Glazebrook East Junction. Stations at Cadishead, Partington, and West Timperley would also be rebuilt.

McArthur said: “The economic, social and environmental benefits would be huge. The East Lancs heritage railways shows the demand with 200,000 passengers a year, so there is a local example to learn from. We’re asking the political representatives and transport bodies to join with us in exploring the art of the possible. Before the launch today, we have held a workshop to discuss the options and we are encouraged by the positive response to take this forward.”

With over 10,000 homes planned in Carrington and Irlam by developers including Himor, McArthur feels that the cycle route would improve connectivity and investment in those communities.

McArthur also anticipated that once the line reopened as a heritage route for steam trains that it could pave the way for a modern ‘heavy rail’ passenger service route, or even a future Metrolink extension from Altrincham.

Your Comments

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What a wonderful idea!


This would be absolutely fantastic. Providing the bike/pedestrian route as well as the heavy rail is such a good idea, anything that improves connectivity between suburbs and separates pedestrians/cyclists from roads can only be encouraged

By Bradford

A much better idea than Mr. Portillo’s jacket.

By Gene Walker

What a great Idea this would attract investment in the way of tourist and business growth. Hope this becomes a reality

By Jimmy Jones

Just think about it. The access for traders to Dixons.
Also, stop going on about Michael Portillo, you’re never going to meet him.

By Garry

Whilst this line will undoubtedly improve accessibility, I wont be trading in my Rover 800, not even for a smaller, cheaper mini metro.

By L Benfield

There’s more to Irlam dan dis

By Dan

Rail is potentially the way forward. No more cars.

In the words of Joni Mitchell, they paved paradise andnd put up a parking lot.

By Rooney

About time something was done with that stretch of line Partington has only a bus service nearest train station is Flixton which is a good bit away. Connecting Partington and Irlam up again is desperately needed as without a sketchy bus service would be cut off completely, I think it’s great that your looking into this and I really do hope it goes ahead!

By Simon Partington

I’m currently the chair of the parish council and my ambition is to open our disused railway using levelling up funding alongside funding from large developers in surrounding areas we have so much development on the horizon but no true infrastructure this would tick all boxes I’m eager to talk with anyone who’s interested.
Wayne Edwards

By Wayne Edwards

This would be true levelling up

By Wayne Edwards

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