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The Chester–Manchester line is one of two lines which run between the cities of Chester and Manchester in North West England. It is the faster of the two lines, and runs via Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay. The other (slower) line is the Mid-Cheshire line.

Chester–Manchester line
Arriva Trains Wales Class 175, 175114, platform 5, Earlestown railway station (geograph 4512032).jpg
An Arriva Trains Wales Class 175 at Earlestown railway station
Other name(s)Chester to Manchester Line (via Warrington Bank Quay)
LocaleGreater Manchester
North West England
OwnerNetwork Rail
Transport for Wales
Rolling stock
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed75 mph (121 km/h) from Chester to Warrington Bank Quay
110 mph (180 km/h) from WBQ to Earlestown
90 mph (140 km/h) from Earlestown to Manchester
Route map

Calder Valley line
Hope Valley line
West Coast Main Line
Huddersfield line Glossop line
Manchester Mayfield
Manchester Victoria Manchester Metrolink
Manchester Piccadilly Manchester Metrolink
Manchester Exchange
Manchester Oxford Road
Manchester Central
Salford Central
Ordsall Lane
Cross Lane
Eccles Manchester Metrolink
Barton Moss
Lamb's Cottage
Flow Moss Cottage
Glazebury and Bury Lane
Kenyon Junction
to Wigan via Hindley
Parkside Junction
Golborne Junction
Lowton Junction
Newton-le-Willows Junction
Warrington Central
High Level
Warrington Bank Quay
St Helens and
Runcorn Gap Railway
Low Level
Junction reversed
during rationalisation
Runcorn East
West Coast Main Line
to London
Dunham Hill
Mickle Trafford
Chester Merseyrail
Chester Northgate

There is currently one train per hour in each direction from Chester to Manchester Piccadilly. From May 2019 there will be an additional train per hour in each direction, calling only at Chester, Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria.



Both routes to Manchester share the Chester to Crewe line for a short distance to Brook Lane Junction where the Manchester lines diverge to Mickle Trafford at which point the southern route of the Cheshire Lines Committee (see the Mid-Cheshire Line) diverges south-easterly to Mouldsworth whilst the considerably older route (the 1850 Birkenhead Railway[1]) built by the London and North Western Railway and run jointly with the Great Western Railway continues to Helsby (junction from Ellesmere Port), Frodsham (nearest station to the junction for the Halton Curve) and the 1983 station at Runcorn East. It then passes through the Sutton Tunnel (over a mile long) and heads northwards to cross and then run alongside the West Coast Main Line, eventually joining it at Acton Grange Junction en-route to Warrington Bank Quay.

From Warrington the route follows the original 1837 Grand Junction Railway northwards through Winwick Junction to Earlestown where it joins George Stephenson's original Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which was the world's first inter-city railway, having opened in 1830. From here this venerable route is via Newton-le-Willows, Patricroft and Eccles and then either via the earlier route to Manchester Victoria station or, as at present, via Ordsall Lane and Castlefield junctions, joining the Manchester–Preston line and on to Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly station at platforms 13 & 14.


Transport for Wales operate an hourly service throughout between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester (no trains stop at Deansgate, Eccles or Patricroft) and onwards calling at all stations to Llandudno on the North Wales Coast Line (except in the late evenings and on Sundays, when trains terminate at Chester). Certain services run to or from Holyhead instead of Llandudno on weekdays to connect with the Irish ferries.[2]

Class 175 units are primarily used for the services between Manchester and North Wales, although Class 158 units can appear; Class 142 Pacer and Class 156 Sprinter units are used on the infrequent service between Liverpool/Warrington B.Q and Ellesmere Port which share the line between Warrington and Helsby.

It is also used by the Freightliner Group for access to the rail-served maritime freight terminal at Ellesmere Port.

Future developmentsEdit

  • From May 2019 (although originally planned for December 2017), there will be an extra hourly train running Chester–Warrington Bank Quay–Manchester Victoria–Bradford–Leeds (via the Calder Valley).[3][4] This service will be operated by new 100 mph diesel trains.[5][6]
  • In March 2015, the Electrification Task Force said that the Manchester to Chester Line (via Warrington Bank Quay) was a Tier 1 priority for being electrified in the CP6 period (2019-2024).[7]
  • The new Northern franchise requires the removal and replacement of all Pacer trains by 2020.[4]
  • From May 2019 there will also be a new service between Chester and Frodsham extending to Liverpool Lime Street via the Halton Curve.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway." The 8D Association; retrieved 15 March 2017
  2. ^ Table 81 National Rail timetable, December 2016
  3. ^ a b "Rail industry confirms new summer 2019 timetable". 7 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Northern Rail Franchise TransPennine Express Rail Franchise" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Northern franchise improvements". p. Chester to Leeds.
  6. ^ "Arriva Northern".
  7. ^ "Electrification Task Force Final Report Revealed". Archived from the original on 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2015-05-21.