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