East Lancashire Railway

The East Lancashire Railway is one of the UK’s best kept heritage railways. British Rail stopped passenger services on the line in 1972 but it was reopened 15 years later by the enthusiastic members of the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society.

The railway now carries more than 150,000 passengers per year and hosts a busy programme of events. Much of its success can be attributed to its policy of fully involving the community and local councils in its operations.

Ramsbottom Train Station - East Lancashire Railway
Ramsbottom Train Station – East Lancashire Railway

Stations

The route runs from Rawtenstall to Heywood and is 12 miles long. From north to south the stations are:

Parking

All stations, except Bury, offer free car parking. There’s a pay-and-display car park at the side of Bury Bolton Street Train Station. Parking charges are cheapest on Sundays.

Timetable

The East Lancashire Railway runs services every weekend and most bank holidays throughout the year. Trains also run on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays between April and September.

Fares

Ticket prices depend on the distance travelled.

In 2015 an adult ticket from Bury to Rawtenstall costs £11.30 while the fare from Bury to Ramsbottom is £8.00. Freedom of the Line tickets offer the best value and allow unlimited travel all day plus free entry to the Bury Transport Museum.

Discounts are available for children (5 – 15 years), senior citizens, and the disabled. Children under 5 travel free.

People living in Bury, Rossendale or Rochdale are eligible for Residents Permit, giving heavily discounted fares for a small annual fee.

Bury Transport Museum

Bury Transport Museum first opened in 1972 but was forced to close in 2003 after the building was deemed to be unsafe. It reopened in April 2010 following a multi-million pound restoration programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Housed in a former goods warehouse just across the road the station it boasts a fascinating collection of vintage vehicles such as buses, steam engines, trams, fire engines, and trucks.

Events

The East Lancs Railway hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Kids love the Day Out With Thomas weekends where they get to ride on trains decorated as characters from the children’s TV series Thomas and Friends. Entertainment is provided and children receive a certificate of participation.

One of the most popular events is the 1940s Wartime Weekend, held every May. Thousands of visitors, many dressed in vintage clothing and military uniforms, enjoy battle re-enactments, brass bands, tea dances, and displays of military vehicles.

The calendar also includes diesel and steam weekends, dinner trains, and the Santa Special train rides at Christmas.

For a full listing of events and more information visit the official website.

Route Map

The map below shows the route followed by the East Lancashire Railway. Click here for an interactive map showing stations, nearby tourist attractions, hotels etc.

Map showing route of East Lancashire Railway

Comments and Additional Information

  1. Went to the 1940s weekend on 26th May 2018. Have been to this event a couple of times in the past and it has always been fun and spectacular. The only disappointment this year was that there was only one steam train running. But apart from that I can thoroughly recommend this as a good day out.

    Reply
  2. I would love to visit the ELR, but have not been able to access timetables, nor identify the location of Bury Station in relation to the tram service from Manchester. Can/will you help me with this? I am 88 years of age, and must travel by public transport.

    Reply
    • The timetables are on the official East Lancashire Railway website.

      Bury Bolton Street Train Station isn’t that far from Bury Interchange (Bury Metrolink Station and Bury Bus Station). Since you asked the question we’ve added an interactive map. You should be able to see where the train station is in relation to the Metrolink station.

      Reply
    • The railway has its timetable on its website. It runs trains every weekend, and between April and September, on Weds, Thurs and Friday as well. Some steam and some diesel. Avoid days with pink background as they are Special events and cost more. In terms of the tram, the route does vary, so it is best to check with Metrolink. You need to get a tram with Bury on the front, and stay on till the end. It takes about 15 mins to get to the Railway. At the moment, trams to Bury go from Ashton and Piccadilly and Victoria, but it does vary from day to day, so you need to check on the Metrolink website before you travel.

      Reply
  3. We went on the East Lancashire Railway last week and really enjoyed it. I didn’t think I would. It is a good and inexpensive day out for a family. The train was wonderful and the stations all beautifully maintained. My kids are Harry Potter fanatics and loved it even more.

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  4. Lunch on a Pullman followed by real ale. What more could a grown man want?

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  5. I have just spent the most wonderful day with my Grandchildren at Thomas the Tank Day. We had a fantastic time and it was excellent value for money. The staff were fantastic and they were so happy and informative. A huge thank you from the Hall Family.

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  6. A fabulous day out for adults and children. My grandchildrens’ enthusiasm carried over to the adults.

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  7. The ELR is one of the north west’s biggest tourist attractions and pulls in over 100,000 visitors every year.

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  8. The East Lancashire Railway has some restored Pullman coaches and operates regular Lancastrian Lunches and romantic Red Rose Dinners. It’s a very unusual dining experience that’s not to be missed.

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    • Where do you board the train for Lancastrian lunches please?

      Reply

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