Rossendale rail revival puts future of East Lancs Railway under threat


By Ben Jones

TWO proposals to improve public transport links between Rossendale and central Manchester have thrown the future of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) heritage operation into doubt.

Rossendale Borough Council (RBC) is one of three local authorities which own the ELR trackbed and is driving forward plans to introduce regular peak-period commuter trains on the heritage railway.
A second scheme to introduce tram-trains between Bury and Rochdale would use part of the ELR’s route from Bury to Castleton via Heywood.

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The East Lancashire Railway is at risk from trams. Here, No. 34092 City of Wells passes the site of Ewood Bridge station on October 28, 2018 with the 09.30 Bury Bolton Street-Rawtenstall service. RICHARD G FOX

Despite the success of the ELR as the area’s major tourist attraction, and the second most visited paid-for attraction in Greater Manchester in 2018, RBC and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) are keen to improve rail links and reduce congestion on the key commuter routes between Rossendale and Manchester.

A report commissioned by RBC and Lancashire County Council (LCC), carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), describes a peak-period shuttle service between Rawtenstall and Bury and a new heavy rail link from a disused platform at Bury Bolton Street station to Castleton as a “promising option”.

Read more in the February 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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