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Trip Report: The East Lancashire Railway, North-West England

Click on each picture for a closer look!
In 1987, the East Lancashire Railway (a preserved tourist railway) was opened along a stretch of former British Rail line in the north-western county of Lancashire. The line is now 12 miles long and operates between the towns of Heywood and Rawtenstall. It is a very enjoyable journey through the Irwell Valley.
The main station on the line is Bury Bolton Street, right in Bury town centre. From the platform, you can also see much of the railway’s yard facilities. Across the road is the Bury Transport Museum, which features displays of both road and rail equipment used in Lancashire over the past 150 years.
Thanks to a rail connection with the national rail network, the railway has a wide variety of stock and different locomotives often visit the line. It operates both diesel and steam trains throughout the year. With an inexpensive rover ticket, it is possible to ride up and down the line all day, visiting the various communities along the route.
Most stations on the line feature shops catering to railway enthusiasts as well as cafes, restaurants and pubs.
The photos show:
  • “Black 5” locomotive 44871 sitting at Bury Bolton Street, preparing to depart for Heywood.
  • A pair of Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) arrive at Summerseat station with the first train of the morning.
  • The DMUs make a stop at Ramsbottom station as the sun begins to set behind the hills.
  • 44871, running tender-first, approaches the end of the line at Rawtenstall. The unseasonably cold weather in the UK has made for spectacular clouds of steam.
  • The level crossing barriers at Ramsbottom station are operated from the signal box (left of image). The signalman turns a wheel and, through a series of gears, the gates are opened or closed.
  • The fireman tends to 44871’s fire during a stop at Rawtenstall.
The East Lancashire Railway is accessible by bus, road or the Manchester Metrolink tram network. For more information, click here.
We are finally above freezing here and the snow has melted. It is currently sunny without a cloud in the sky. Happy New Year!
Posting and pictures by Thomas Blampied

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