Successful first step to restore Rochdale-Heywood-Bury railway line
Date published: 26 May 2020
Photo: Russell Clarke
The line to Heywood branches off at Castleton station, shown here
An application for funding to investigate the restoration of the Rochdale-Heywood-Bury railway line has been successful in a first round of government funding to support rail developments.
Ten bids by local authorities and MPs have been announced to receive a share of the £500,000 ‘Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund’ to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed following the Beeching cuts of the 1960s – removing duplicated routes and closing lesser used railway branch lines to cut mounting debts of the nationalised British Rail.
Heywood station was closed to normal passenger services in 1970; since 2003, it has been used by the East Lancashire Railway as an important heritage railway tourist attraction.
The Ideas Fund seeks proposals for projects to restore lost rail connections, and will fund 75% of costs up to £50,000 of successful proposals.
The Greater Manchester five-year delivery plan, which was published last year by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), shows the Bury–Heywood–Rochdale route to be of key consideration with the corridor highlighted as being suitable for intervention. TfGM is also currently undertaking a tram-train pathfinder project in this area.
The Department for Transport will work with TfGM to agree research remits and appropriate joint governance and timescales.
Tony Lloyd, Member of Parliament for Rochdale, welcomed the successful first step towards restoring the local rail line.
Mr Lloyd said: “The government announcement that Rochdale and Greater Manchester had been successful in its bid to the ‘Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund’ will allow for Transport for Greater Manchester, working with Rochdale Council, to work up a business plan aimed at the reopening and improvement of some six miles of railway between Bury and Rochdale.
“This isn't the scale of investment we need in our rail system but it is a step on the route of getting some high quality rail investment in the borough.
“Metrolink services and the rail service from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre, but it does not provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.
“The current public transport offering between Heywood and Manchester city centre is provided by bus services but during the busiest times of the day this journey can take more than one hour, limiting the borough’s residents’ access to the many jobs located there."
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