Blackrod railway station

Blackrod railway station serves the village of Blackrod, England, 6.5 miles (10 km ) north west of Bolton railway station. It is just 1+14 miles (2.0 km) from the town centre of Horwich - closer than Horwich Parkway station.

National Rail
Blackrod Station Platform.jpg
Blackrod railway station, seen prior to the completion of refurbishment and electrification works
General information
LocationBlackrod, Bolton
Coordinates53°35′28″N 2°34′12″W / 53.591°N 2.570°W / 53.591; -2.570Coordinates: 53°35′28″N 2°34′12″W / 53.591°N 2.570°W / 53.591; -2.570
Grid referenceSD623106
Managed byNorthern Trains
Other information
Station codeBLK
ClassificationDfT category F1
2016/17Increase 0.609 million
2017/18Decrease 0.550 million
2018/19Increase 0.564 million
2019/20Increase 0.606 million
2020/21Decrease 51,754
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

It lies on the Manchester-Preston Line and is served by Northern Trains, who run local stopping and express trains from Manchester Airport & Hazel Grove to Blackpool North. Despite its high passenger usage and the recent refurbishment (see below) the station is currently unstaffed. A drop in passenger usage in the year 2017/18 is largely due to industrial action and engineering works.


The station was opened on 4 February 1841 as Horwich Road by the Manchester and Bolton Railway. It was renamed Horwich and Blackrod, then Horwich Junction, then Horwich and Blackrod junction, and finally Blackrod in 1888 [1]

Blackrod was once the junction for a short branch to serve the original Horwich station (closed to passengers on 27 September 1965[2]) and Horwich Locomotive Works (sold in 1988, after which the line was closed and lifted). Until the 1980s, Blackrod had a poor frequency of service,[3] but for many years it has been a popular commuter station.

Technical railway informationEdit

The station had until recently a signal box, the only one on the entire Manchester to Preston route. This had outlasted the others as it acted as the 'fringe' to both the Manchester Piccadilly signalling centre and Preston PSB. The train description system used in the Preston installation was incompatible with that installed at Piccadilly[4] so the signaller at Blackrod had to transfer train data manually from one system to the other as each one passed through his/her control area. A similar situation existed at Bromley Cross on the Bolton to Blackburn line, where the two control areas also overlap.[5]
Network Rail announced in May 2012 that the box was due to be abolished in January 2013, with control passing to the Piccadilly signalling centre. This is part of a programme of signalling renewals associated with the planned electrification of the Manchester-Preston line (due for completion in 2016). The box was duly decommissioned on 10 February 2013 and subsequently demolished.[6]

Blackrod in 1962

2012 refurbishmentEdit

Over one million pounds' worth of improvements to the station (including the removal of the footbridge shown in the photo and its replacement with step-free access ramps) were completed in November 2012.[7]


A ticket vending machine is in place for purchase of tickets or promise to pay coupons and for the collection of pre-paid tickets. Digital station information boards are in operation on both platforms along public announcements. Car parking is available. Both platforms have step-free access via ramps from Station Road. The signal box is not in use any more. Since May 2020, certain mobility scooters can be carried on all services from Blackrod.[8]


Currently, trains run every two hours off peak during daytime service to Manchester Airport southbound and to Blackpool North northbound.[9] Fast trains make extra stops in the event of service disruption or cancellations. Usually the daytime service is hourly, but it has been temporarily reduced due to shortages of train crew as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to reduce congestion in central Manchester. Through services to Blackpool North northbound and to Manchester Piccadilly and beyond call at peak periods providing up to 3 trains an hour during the morning and evening peak. In the evenings, the service is hourly to Hazel Grove or Manchester Airport southbound and Blackpool North northbound.

On Sundays, there is a more regular hourly all-day service to Blackpool North and Manchester Airport.

Saturday and Sunday services were replaced by buses most weekends from May 2015 until November 2018 due to the late-running electrification work on the route.[10] Weekend services resumed on Sunday 11 November 2018 after the completion of the electrification engineering work. Sunday services were regularly replaced by buses between December 2018 and March 2021 due to train crew shortages but a full Sunday Sunday service is now in operation.

An hourly off peak service seven days a week between Manchester Airport and Blackpool North is planned to resume by December 2022 as part of a major change to timetables in the Manchester area following a consultation in January 2021. Peak services will be half hourly and Sunday services will remain hourly.

Renovation and electrificationEdit

It was announced by the Department for Transport in December 2009, the line between Preston and Manchester, on which the station is situated, will be electrified which should reduce journey times to Manchester by up to ten minutes.[11] There have been many delays but completion is expected before December 2018.

Electric service commenced on 11 February 2019, initially utilising Class 319 electric multiple units.[12]

Post electrification servicesEdit

The station in 2018, following refurbishment and completion of electrification works.

A new timetable was introduced in May 2019 featuring new electric trains and shorter journey times; daytime services run hourly between Preston and Manchester Victoria with evening and additional peak services running between Blackpool North and Manchester Piccadilly and onwards to Manchester Airport or Hazel Grove. Initially all services utilised Class 319 electric multiple units. From December 2019, the Blackpool to Manchester Airport/Hazel Grove. Since May 2021, all services utilise Class 331 electric multiple units.

Saturday services will be similar to weekday services with all evening services after 20:00 extending to Manchester Airport.

Sunday services extend to Blackpool North with some early morning and late night services running to/from Manchester Airport.


  1. ^ Butt, R.V.J., (1995) The Directory of Railway Stations, Yeovil: Patrick Stephens
  2. ^ Disused Stations - HorwichDisused Stations - Horwich; Retrieved 16 August 2016
  3. ^ BR Timetable 1973, table 96
  4. ^ "Blackrod Station - Blackrod Junction signal box". Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Bromley Cross signal box". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  6. ^ Blackrod Station - Past & Present; Retrieved 2012-10-29
  7. ^ "Passengers to benefit from over £1 million investment at Blackrod station". Northern Rail News. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Mobility Scooters : Our guide to how and where you can travel" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  9. ^ GB eNRT May 2022 Edition, Table 82
  10. ^ Manchester - Bolton - Preston route improvement works Archived 30 July 2018 at the Wayback MachineNorthern website news article; Retrieved 2 August 2018
  11. ^ Milmo, Dan (9 December 2009). "Rail electrification gets green light". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  12. ^ McDonnell, Seamus (14 February 2019). "First electric trains are a 'new dawn' for Bolton commuters | The Bolton News". The Bolton News. Retrieved 11 May 2020.

External linksEdit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Northern Trains
Northern Trains
  Historical railways  
Line and station open
  Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Bolton and Preston Railway
  Lostock Lane
Line open, station closed
Disused railways
Terminus   Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Horwich Branch
Line and station closed