East Lancashire Railway beset by vandals and fly-tipping as it works towards re-opening

Date published: 07 April 2021

Preparations for the re-opening of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) are being hampered by continuing instances of fly-tipping and vandalism along the track, the railway has warned. 

ELR has been forced to run regular clean up patrols, which have seen volunteers remove extensive amounts of rubbish dumped along the heritage railway’s twelve miles of track that stretches from Heywood to Rawtenstall via Bury.

The patrols have already collected six wagon loads of rubbish - including items as large as sofas - and it has also had the knock-on effect of preventing the ELR’s army of dedicated volunteers from focusing on their main priority - preparing the railway for its planned reopening on 1 May.

Mike Kelly, chairman of the ELR, said "It’s really frustrating to see rubbish casually dumped on the railway like this. 

“The upsurge in anti-social behaviour has put further strain on our already fragile finances - as we  have been forced to collect and remove all this waste we have to run special services and hire skips which costs the railway several thousands of pounds we cannot afford to spend. 

“As well as the litter, we’ve also suffered extensive vandalism to fences from the individuals who have been using the railway tracks as a dumping ground during lockdown.”


The results of a clean up patrol by volunteers at East Lancashire Railway


With safety trains running during lockdown to maintain the line and prepare for reopening, anyone trespassing on the railway is putting themselves in danger. 

Mike added: “I would like to call on the help of the public, and would ask people to be vigilant and report any instances of trespass they may witness.

“Stamping out on anti-social behaviour on the railway will help to keep the public safe and allow us all to focus on our top priority - the re-opening of an attraction that brings joy to so many.

“My thanks, as ever, go to our fantastic volunteers who are working flat out to get the railway ready for reopening on 1 May.”

The heritage railway, based in Bury, has been fighting for its survival since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago.

Deprived of vital visitor income for the majority of the past twelve months, it has been kept afloat only through its extensive fundraising efforts, loans and grants.

The railway is scheduled to open its doors to passengers from 1 May and has Covid safety measures in place for the return of visitors. It’s re-opening commences with the two station pubs, the Trackside at Bury and Buffer Stops at Rawtenstall, which will open on the 12 April for outside service.

To support the railway as it prepares to reopen, the public can donate to the ELR Support Fund, or purchase a gift voucher or advance booking ticket for a journey from 1 May.

To purchase gift vouchers or book tickets visit: www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk.

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