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The East Lancashire Railway is a 12 12-mile (20 km) heritage railway line in north west England which runs between Heywood in Greater Manchester and Rawtenstall (Lancashire) with intermediate stations at Bury Bolton Street, Burrs Country Park, Summerseat, Ramsbottom all in Greater Manchester, and Irwell Vale conurbations in south east Lancashire.

East Lancashire Railway
'Flying Scotsman' travelling past Ewood Bridge.jpg
60103 Flying Scotsman at Blackburn Road bridge, Ewood Bridge, heading towards Rawtenstall
LocaleNorth west England
TerminusRawtenstall and
ConnectionsNetwork Rail (west of Heywood,via Castleton)
Manchester Metrolink (south of Bury)
Commercial operations
NameEast Lancashire Railway
Built byEast Lancashire Railway (1844–1859)
Original gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated byEast Lancashire Railway Company
Length12 miles 45 chains (20.2 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Closed17 March 1980
Preservation history
31 March 1986Granted Light Railway Order (for public service)
25 July 1987Re-opens and public service begins
27 April 1991Extension to Rawtenstall
6 September 2003Extension to Heywood
13 October 2016New halt opened at Burrs Country Park
HeadquartersBury Bolton Street


Passenger services between Bury and Rawtenstall were withdrawn by British Rail on 3 June 1972. Coal services to Rawtenstall ended in 1980, and formal closure followed in 1982.[1] The East Lancashire Railway Trust reopened the line on 25 July 1987.[2] The initial service operated between Bury and Ramsbottom, via Summerseat. In 1991 the service was extended northwards from Ramsbottom to reach Rawtenstall, via Irwell Vale.[3]

However, two original stations on the line, closed to passengers by BR in 1972, have not reopened. They are the former Ewood Bridge & Edenfield and the former Junction station of Stubbins.

Rawtenstall is the practical northern limit of the line as the formation on towards Bacup has been lost immediately north of the station.

Freight train passing over the "Ski Jump" bridge

In September 2003, an eastbound extension from Bury to Heywood was re-opened. To reach Heywood the extension had to cross over the Manchester Metrolink line to Bury, at the site of the former Bury Knowsley Street station. This necessitated the construction of a new intersection bridge, with steeply graded approaches of 1 in 36 and 1 in 41 nicknamed The Ski Jump.

On 13 October 2016, the new Burrs Country Park station was officially opened by the Mayor of Bury, where locomotive no. 4472 Flying Scotsman pulled the first train to stop at the station with a bagpipe rendition of 'Scotland the Brave' signalling its arrival.[4]

The remainder of the extension includes a long section at 1 in 85, rising towards Heywood, as the preserved railway line climbs out of the Irwell valley.

The heritage line is now just over 12 miles (19 km) long, and has a mainline connection with the national railway network at Castleton, just beyond Heywood. The ELR is planning to extend the running line to Castleton in the future, with a new cross platform interchange being the preferred option.[5]

Options for providing an interchange station at Castleton between East Lancashire Railway and National Rail services are currently being explored. Plans for the new station are supported by Rochdale Borough Council, which hopes to fund it by adjacent land development.[6] A rail connection with the Metrolink line also exists, just south of Bury, at Buckley Wells. This was formerly the connection to the Electric Car Shops where the Class 504 EMU sets were maintained, and was created when BR services were diverted to Bury Interchange in 1980.

The railway is open every weekend of the year and holds a number of themed events and galas throughout the year which include steam and diesel events amongst others, and also offers driver experience courses. The Day out with Thomas events made a return to the railway after a two-year absence, following fresh negotiations, having previously been unable to reach an agreement with HIT Entertainment, the owners of the Thomas brand.[7] While Thomas was absent, the ELR operated Family Engines Big Day Out events featuring alternative engines with faces, such as Jimmy the Jinty.

The railway is run by volunteer members from the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society (ELRPS). The railway is well known for its collection of diesel locomotives which reside on the railway, along with over 140 carriages, wagons and utility vehicles. Although the ELR does offer a local residents' discount card, and many residents do use the trains at weekends, it does not claim to offer a true commuter service either in levels of services or fares.

In the 1990s, the railway was featured in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and in the finale of ITV's comedy series The Grimleys, named The Grimley Curse set in 1978, and then in 2007 on the finale of BBC One's award-winning drama series Life on Mars set in 1973, a class 47 was used for scenes of an armed robbery at Brooksbottom Tunnel.

The railway also featured in an episode of Coronation Street (transmitted on August Bank Holiday 2010) when Hayley and Roy Cropper travelled to their wedding aboard an ELR train of Mark 1 coaches hauled by LMS "Black 5" No. 44871 which carried 45407's Lancashire Fusilier nameplates for the occasion. The line also starred in the BBC television film Eric and Ernie, aired on New Year's Day 2011, about the early career of the British comedy act Morecambe and Wise. Bury Bolton street station was featured, along with a train of Mark 1 coaches hauled by LMS "Black 5" No. 44871. In 2014, the railway was featured in a week of episodes of Hollyoaks (broadcast 3–7 November) which featured a crash involving BR Class 14 No. D9531 "Ernest".

In October 2014, Ramsbottom Station and the adjacent level crossing on Bridge Street was featured in the 2017 movie A Monster Calls which was the scene for an emotional peak in the movie, starring Sigourney Weaver in a Volvo estate car waiting for a BR DMU, in Rail Blue livery, to pass through the crossing.[8]

In 2019, the CityMetric website published a "fantasy" tram link expansion proposal to create a orbital extension to the Manchester Metrolink tram system, which would include part of the current East Lancashire Railway route between Bury and Heywood.[9]

In January 2019, Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line which was listed as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments).[10]

Railway stations of the ELREdit

Irwell Vale Railway station signage
East Lancashire Railway
Ewood Bridge and Edenfield
Irwell Vale
Nuttall Tunnel (
115 yd
105 m
Brooksbottom Tunnel (
423 yd
387 m
Brooksbottom Viaduct
Burrs Country Park
Bury North Tunnel (
80 yd
73 m
Bury Bolton Street
Bury South Junction
Buckley Wells
Bury Knowsley Street
Bury Interchange
Roch Viaduct
Viaduct over M66


The ELR is home to a mixed collection of small to large designs, some of which are main-line certified. These often visit other heritage lines, or can be found operating mainline excursions, especially during the summer season (March–October).

Steam locomotivesEdit


Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
32 Gothenburg Manchester Ship Canal 0-6-0 T   Thomas The Tank Engine Blue Built in 1903 at Hudswell Clarke.
34092 City of Wells SR West Country Class 4-6-2   BR Lined Green, Early Emblem Built in 1949 at Brighton Works. Formerly based at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and recently returned from the KWVR after attending their 50th anniversary gala.[11]
45212 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0   BR Lined Black, Late Crest Built in 1935. (passed for main line running), usually based at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway but on hire to Ian Riley for mainline use following overhaul.
52322 L&YR Class 27 0-6-0   BR Unlined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1896 at Horwich Works.
80080 BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T   BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Built in 1954. Returned from the Butterley following a boiler overhaul in 2019.
80097 BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T   BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1954. Recently undergone restoration from scrapyard condition, running in commenced in October 2018 and returned to service for the first time in preservation in early 2019.[12]


Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes

Operational but away from the ELREdit

Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
1370 May Peckett and Sons 0-4-0 ST   Lined Green Built in 1915. Currently on loan to Beamish Museum.
44871 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0   BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Built in 1945. (passed for main line running), currently at the Swanage Railway.[citation needed]

Locos out of ActionEdit

Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
752 L&YR Class 23 0-6-0 ST   Built in 1881. Under Overhaul for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust.[13]
3855 GWR 2884 Class 2-8-0 Built in 1942. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.
7229 GWR 7200 Class 2-8-2 T Built in 1935. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition inside Baron Street works.
13065 LMS Class 5P/4F "Crab" 2-6-0   Built in 1927 at Crewe Works. Out of service for 2018 due to cracked flue tues, replacement of all the flue tubes needs to be undertook alongside replacing the cracked ones. The engines 10 year overhaul is to be undertook in a bid to allow the ELR to have an operational engine rather than having 34092 out of traffic at the same time as 13065 in the future.[14][15]
45407 The Lancashire Fusilier LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0   Built in 1937 at Armstrong Whitworth. currently disguised as 45157 The Glasgow Highlander for 2018. Returned to the ELR in November 2018 following a season in Fort William working Jacobite trains. The engine is presently undergoing winter maintenance and boiler work, for 2018 the engine ran in the identity of scrapped sibling 45157 The Glasgow Highlander.
46428 LMS Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0   Built in 1948. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.
47298 LMS Class 3F "Jinty" 0-6-0 T   Built in 1924. Under Overhaul.
47324 LMS Class 3F "Jinty" 0-6-0 T   Built in 1926. Under Overhaul.

Locos in store/static displayEdit

Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
1 Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 ST Built in 1927. On display in Bury Transport Museum.
35009 Shaw Savill SR Merchant Navy 4-6-2   Built in 1942. Undergoing restoration from scrapyard condition.


The ELR is home to one of the largest preserved diesel fleets on a UK heritage railway. Many locomotives are owned by private individuals or an owning group, which co-operate as the ELR Diesel Group.

Operational dieselsEdit

Number & Name Type Photograph Livery Notes
4002 'Arundel Castle' MSC Hudswell Clarke   Black Built in 1958
9009 Motorail Simplex 4WDM
D2956 (01003) BR Class 01   BR Black
D2062 (03062) BR Class 03 BR Green
08164 (D3232) 'Prudence' BR Class 08   BR Blue
13594 (08479) BR Class 08 BR Black Baron Street works pilot
09024 BR Class 09 BR Departmental Grey
D9531 'Ernest' BR Class 14   BR Two-tone Green
D9537 'Eric' BR Class 14   BR Desert Sand Built in 1965
D5054 (24054) 'Phil Southern' BR Class 24   BR Green Built in 1959
33109 (D6525) 'Captain Bill Smith RNR' BR Class 33   BR Engineers Grey Built in 1960
D7076 BR Class 35   BR Blue Built in 1962
37109 (D6809) BR Class 37   BR Blue Built in 1963
40106 (D306) 'Atlantic Conveyor' BR Class 40   BR Green Built in 1960, (Owned by the Class 40 Preservation Society)
40135 (D335 & 97406) BR Class 40   BR Blue Built in 1960, (Owned by the Class 40 Preservation Society)
345 (40145) BR Class 40   BR Blue Built in 1961, (Owned by the Class 40 Preservation Society). Mainline certified
D832 'Onslaught' BR Class 42   BR Green
45108 BR Class 45   BR Blue Built in 1961, on loan from the Midland Railway - Butterley
D1501 (47402) BR Class 47   BR Two-tone Green Built in 1962
50015 (D415) 'Valiant' BR Class 50   BR Large Logo Blue Built in 1968
56006 BR Class 56   BR Blue Built in 1976, (on loan from the Class 56 Group)

Operational DMU'sEdit

Operational but away from the ELREdit

    • BR Class 37 No. 37418 (D6971), BR Large Logo Blue (minus name and numbers). Built in 1965. (On hire to Colas Rail)

Diesel locomotives out of actionEdit

  • Diesel locomotives and DMUs undergoing light work, overhaul or restoration
    • F. C. Hibberd 'Planet' 3438 (Under restoration at Castlecroft)
    • BR Class 07 No. 07013 (Non-Operational since roughly 2002/03. Full overhaul to commence in due course)
    • BR Class 08 No. 08944 (Stopped, pending engine overhaul, owned by the Harry Needle Railroad Company)
    • BR Class 14 No. D9502 'Kerys', BR Green. Built in 1964. (Undergoing long-term restoration)
    • BR Class 15 No. D8233 (Restoration in progress in Baron Street works) Class 15 Preservation Society
    • BR Class 28 No. D5705 (Under restoration with the C15PS) Class 15 Preservation Society
    • BR Class 33 No. 6536 (33117) (under overhaul in Buckley Wells shed)
    • BR Class 37 No. 37679, Transrail (Undergoing overhaul at Ian Riley's Workshops, Baron Street)
    • BR Class 45 No. 45135 (D99) '3rd Carabinier', BR Blue. Built in 1961. (Undergoing major overhaul in Buckley Wells shed)
    • BR Class 52 No. D1041 'Western Prince', BR Blue. Built in 1962. (Bodywork replacement & full rewire, Castlecroft shed)

DMU's out of actionEdit

    • BR Class 207 unit 1305 (207202) 60130+70549+60904 (Bodywork overhaul of 60130 and 60904, Buckley Wells shed)
    • NIR Class 80 No. 99 (bought as spares for 1305, now converted to standard gauge at Buckley Wells)


  • Electric multiple units
    • BR Class 504 unit 65451+77172 (stored at Buckley Wells, being restored as hauled coaching stock)


  • Ex-Blackpool Railgrinder No. 752 is stored at Baron Street, having moved from Heaton Park Tramway to make way for another vehicle. Owned by the Manchester Transport Museum Society.
  • Ex-Blackpool Balloon No. 702 is stored awaiting depot space at Heaton Park. Owned by the Manchester Museum Transport Society.

Former residents on the ELREdit

Note that the locations given may not be current as locomotives move between railways from time to time.


Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
132 Sapper WD Austerity 0-6-0ST   Built in 1944. Currently operational at the Avon Valley Railway.
75008 Swiftsure WD Austerity 0-6-0ST   Built in 1943. Currently operational at the Mid-Norfolk Railway.
7828 Odney Manor GWR 7800 Manor Class 4-6-0   Built in 1950. Departed from the ELR in the 1990s for the West Somerset Railway, it is operational following boiler and firebox repairs at Riley and Sons workshop in Bury.
34073 249 Squadron SR Battle of Britain Class 4-6-2   Built in 1945. Awaiting restoration from scrapyard condition at Carnforth MPD.
35022 Holland America Line SR Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2   Built in 1948. Awaiting restoration from scrapyard condition at Crewe Diesel TMD.
35027 Port Line SR Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2   Built in 1948. Awaiting overhaul at Crewe Diesel TMD. Last ran in 2003.
30499 LSWR S15 class   Built in 1920. Moved to the East Lancashire Railway in 1996 so 499's boiler could be removed and donated to sister engine 30506. Whilst at Bury, frames were overhauled and painted, and the wheels and crank pins were turned. Under restoration at the Mid Hants Railway.
44422 LMS Fowler Class 4F 0-6-0   Built in 1927. Under bottom-end overhaul at the West Somerset Railway, however a new home is being sought for the locomotive.
45337 LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0   Built in 1937. Undergoing Boiler Work at the Llangollen Railway.
45690 Leander LMS Jubilee Class 4-6-0   Built in 1936. Operational and Mainline Certified at Carnforth MPD.
6201 Princess Elizabeth LMS Princess Royal Class 4-6-2   Built in 1933. Operational and mainline certified at Carnforth MPD.
46441 LMS Ivatt Class 2   Built in 1950. Static Display at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.
49395 LNWR Class G2 0-8-0   Built in 1921. Static display at The National Railway Museum in Shildon.
71000 Duke of Gloucester BR Standard Class 8 4-6-2   Built in 1951. Undergoing overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.
76079 BR Standard Class 4 2-6-0   Built in 1957. Operational and Mainline Certified at North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
92134 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0   Built in 1957. Undergoing Restoration at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
92207 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0   Built in 1959. Undergoing Restoration from scrapyard condition at the Shillingstone Railway Project.
92214 BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0   Built in 1959. Operational at the Great Central Railway.


Number & Name Type Photograph Notes
D5600 BR Class 31 (A1A)-(A1A)   Built in 1960. Operational at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway.
37261 BR Class 37 Co-Co Built in 1960. Operational at Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway.
37423 BR Class 37 Co-Co Built in 1960. Operational and Mainline Certified for Direct Rail Services.
37518 BR Class 37 Co-Co   Built in 1960. Operational and Mainline Certified for West Coast Railways.
37901 Mirrlees Pioneer BR Class 37 Co-Co Built in 1963. Awaiting mainline certification at Leicester L.I.P. for Europhoenix.
37906 BR Class 37 Co-Co   Built in 1960. Operational at Europhoenix.


  1. ^ "Rawtenstall Station History". Ramsbottom Model Railway Club.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "The Full History". East Lancashire Railway.
  3. ^ "A History of the East Lancashire Railway". Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  4. ^ Taylor, David (15 October 2016). "Flying Scotsman returns to Bury to open new station at Burrs Country Park". Prestwich and Whitefield Guide. Bury Times Ltd. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  5. ^ Shannon, Laura (7 December 2007). "Back on track for connection". Rochdale Observer. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  6. ^ Lisa Gray (12 September 2014) "Plans to link Castleton Station to the East Lancashire Railway remain on track", Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 December 2014
  7. ^ "Thomas the Tank weekend derailed after legal wrangle". Bury Times. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  8. ^ "Residents line Ramsbottom street in bid to see film stars in action". Bury Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  9. ^ "The Great Manchester Gyratory: An orbital tram line for the Manchester Metrolink". Citymetric. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  10. ^ [1] p.42
  11. ^ Worth Valley's 50th anniversary gala
  12. ^ Update on 80097's restoration
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit