Friends of Littleborough Stations

Past Events


Sunday, 5th February 2017

The Friends have launched a new newsletter series.  This will be distributed to members and made available as soon as possible in the booking office at Littleborough Station.  Copies will be posted on the Friends' notice boards at both Littleborough and Smithy Bridge Stations

Unfortuanately, we cannot upload a copy of the newsletter for viewing, so a plain text version is included on our website

Monday, 10th October 2015

The Friends of Littleborough Stations AGM will be held at the History Centre on the Leeds-bound platform of Littleborough Station at 7pm.  The keynote speaker will be Brian Howarth, the Community Rail Development Officer for Lancashire County Council who will talk about the education programme in which he is involved.  The AGM is open to all to attend ... why not come along and make yourself a member?

Thursday, 25th August 2016

The Friends of Littleborough Stations in partnership with the Littleborough Historical & Archaeological Society welcomed a group of established station adopters from Leamington Spa and Warwick stations (on the Chiltern Railways network) to the History Centre at Littleborough Station

The visit was part of a fact-finding day that the group spent on the Caldervale Line, where they also visited Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd Stations.  The group was interested in learning about the diversity of station adoption at stations in the Calder Valley and also in the diversity of use which our station buildings are put to

The History Centre at Littleborough Station ( is a wonderful example of how a derelict station building in danger of being demolished through lack of viable use can be repurposed.  Its doors were reopened by the LHAS in April 2012 following a period of volunteer-led restoration and provides the LHAS with a home for its local history and archaeological archives

Throughout the day, the group was able to understand how the Calder Valley stations are being regenerated and how the station adopter groups along the line are working together and forging stronger links with each other and with Arriva Rail North, the new franchise holder for the Northern network.  Equally, the Friends of Littleborough Stations have been able to pick up information on how groups from a different railway network are approaching their roles as station adopters.  A useful and enjoyable day, was had by all!


Summit 175 celebrations


Despite the rain, a bumper crowd turned up to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the opening of Summit Tunnel. Littleborough Historical and Archaeological Society hosted the event in the History Centre, where most of the adults gathered. The local schools' band  played inside the shelter on the Leeds bound platform - an especially impressive performance, given the appalling weather. Rochdale Fire Service also came along and parked their engine in Stephenson Square. 

After speeches from the Worshipful the Mayor of Rochdale, Surinder Biant, Bernard Pratt,  Richard Greenwood MBE, Roy Chapman and Professor Paul Salveson, visitors viewed the fascinating exhibition put together by the History Society, before boarding the train for a ride through the Tunnel to Hebden Bridge.

On their return to Littleborough refreshments were served, including a cake iced with a model of the Tunnel entrance.


Litter picking


A big thank you to the folk who turned up on Sunday morning for the pre-Summit 175 clean-up, and a special thank you to Richard for ferrying all the bin bags over to the tip. Have a look at the before, during, and after pics in the Gallery.


Summit 175 celebrations

On 1st March 2016 it will be 175 years since the completion of Summit Railway Tunnel and the opening of the first railway across the Pennines.

The route taken by the Manchester and Leeds Railway (later to become the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) was via Mills Hill, Rochdale, Littleborough, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse, Wakefield and Normanton.   While today trains still travel on all parts of the original route (except for a mile at the Manchester end), none of them makes the original full 60 mile journey as they take a much shorter route via Halifax and Bradford or via Dewsbury.

Until the tunnel was completed, trains ran to both ends and coaches took passengers the two miles or so before they could resume their journey by rail.   The tunnel itself is almost one and three quarters of a mile in length and was the longest in the world at the date of opening. The engineer of the line was George Stephenson, rightly called the “Father of Railways”.  There are two commemorative plaques outside Littleborough station.  

The tunnel was then wholly in Lancashire but now it is half in the old County Palatine and half in Yorkshire, being situated between Littleborough and Todmorden.   Today it is half in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale in Greater Manchester and half in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire.

Today there are four passenger trains per hour each way through the tunnel.   The line also carries varying amounts of freight traffic.

In December 1984 a derailed train containing petrol caught fire and the tunnel was closed for eight months, but that apart, the tunnel has been in continuous use since 1841.

In 1941 the centenary of the line could not be celebrated, but the 150th anniversary was marked with a special train provided by Regional Railways conveying civic dignitaries breaking through a banner at the tunnel mouth for the benefit of television cameras, local exhibitions, lectures, folk concerts and so on.   The guests were transported in vintage buses from Littleborough station to what was then known as “The Fishermans” at Hollingworth Lake, for the usual “cold collation” traditionally served at railway opening ceremonies.

To mark the 175th anniversary a host of dignitaries will be gathering at Littleborough Station on the morning of the 1st March.



Removal of scrap rail from Summit Tunnel


Network Rail have informed us that work will be undertaken from 15th-18th February 23.00-05.00 hours to remove scrap rail from Summit Tunnel. The scrap will be off loaded and stored at the Littleborough Co-Op compound. On track plant will be in use, and as the work has to be carried out at night, some disturbance i.e. noise, will be unavoidable. Any questions should be directed to the Network Rail Helpline on 03457 11 41 41.


Next litter pick at Littleborough

26th January 2016

The next litter pick at Littleborough will be on Sunday 28th February, prior to the Summit 175 anniversary on the 1st March. We'll be there between 11 and 12 - do come and give us a hand. 


Work at Smithy Bridge Station

26th January 2016

Readers may be wondering what is going on at Smithy Bridge. New track drains are being laid in both tracks between Littleborough. A temporary works compound with track access is needed and Smithy Bridge has been chosen as the location for this. The work on the track is expected to take about nine months and the compound may then be closed off.

We have asked Network Rail to put out some information about this to people living in the area.

We have also signalled that we shall be asking (indeed we already have . . .) that once the work is completed, the area should be converted to an additional car park and we have secured the backing of Councillor Janet Emsley for this proposal. 


Women in Community Rail

23rd January 2016

Yesterday Sheila went to the first meeting of the Women in Community Rail Steering Group.

Preliminary aims of the group are to generate funding/in-kind support to develop a website and forum for discussion, along with other functions as part of the action plan for the coming year.

The group will be supporting women active in community rail, including those who work in the industry, railway organisations, train companies, and Network Rail – and the growing number of women already active in Community Rail Partnerships. The group is also talking to ‘Women in Rail’ about forging links with them as a sister group.

‘We already have a lot of interest and backing from various industry colleagues,’ says Sally Buttifant rail officer for the Mid Cheshire Line. ‘But we are really keen to muster more support throughout the industry. We’d like male colleagues to come forward and join the group as well as female colleagues.’

As part of its inclusive agenda the group is very keen to show that Women in Community Rail isn’t just about women, it is about inclusiveness and partnership working.

How Women in Community Rail will achieve its aims

Women in Community Rail is supported by ACorP and championed by Alex Hynes, currently managing director at Northern and soon to hold the same post at Arriva.

Women in Community Rail is planning a spring launch at Manchester’s Victoria Station.


Summit 175

20th January 2016

March 1st 2016 is the 175th anniversary of the opening of Summit Tunnel. FoLSs is working with STORM to celebrate this anniversary, and Littleborough Historical and Archaeological Society have kindly offered to open the History Centre for the morning of the 1st.

Watch this space for further news, but there will definitely be cake, baked and donated by our Treasurer, Dilys Pearson. 


Alex Hynes to be managing director of the new Arriva franchise

15th January 2016

Arriva has announced the appointment of Alex Hynes as managing director of Arriva Rail North Ltd which will operate the Northern rail franchise.

Alex Hynes, who has been managing director of Northern since August 2013, will take up his role in April when Arriva begins operating the nine-year contract which it was awarded in December.

An experienced transport professional, Alex has held a variety of senior roles within the rail industry. He joined Go-Ahead in 2005 before becoming commercial director at their London Midland franchise and then as Managing Director – Rail Development on Go Ahead’s executive committee. From 1 April he will lead Northern’s 5,500 employees and deliver Arriva’s ambitious plans to transform rail travel for customers across the North of England – with an extensive investment programme promising new and refurbished trains, extra services, increased capacity and a variety of station and ticketing improvements.

Arriva will be making further announcements on the wider Northern leadership team in the coming weeks.

FoLSs congratulates Alex Hynes on his appointment and looks forward to working with him. 


Santa Special


Amazingly the sun shone! Our Chair, Rae Street says:

"A huge vote of thanks to Mike and Ruth and Dilys for organising this and to all the helpers: the Band and the churches' carol singers - not forgetting Santa Claus..

It was such a pleasing event.  It was worth everything to see the small children on the Littleborough platform dancing with delight when they saw Santa resplendent in his red outfit and curly white beard.

Overheard was a comment from a young woman returning to London.  "Well, this is the nicest train ride I've ever had.  we don't get this in London"."

The Santa Special was supported by Northern Rail and STORM - a big thank you to both!

Do take a look at Mike and Richard's photos. 


TfGM AGM for community rail groups


Sheila attended TfGM’s annual get-together for community rail groups. More groups than usual attended, some old hands and one or two founded only this year. The range of activities reported on ranged from flower tubs and Santa specials to quite sophisticated social enterprises. One thing is clear, the powers that be now want station buildings to be used, and for as many hours as possible. 


Passenger information at Smithy Bridge


Northern Rail have upgraded the train information at Smithy Bridge. There is now live signage in each shelter which displays details of the next service, including its destination and all the intermediary stops.  


Smithy Bridge Car park


Rae and Mike met Councillors Emsley and Hartley, and representatives of Rochdale Environmental Services team at Smithy Bridge to discuss what to do about fly-tipping in the car park. Although the land is believed to belong to Network Rail, a team from Rochdale are currently trying to keep on top of the litter.

The Council are to contact Network Rail to discuss ownership of the car park.

Planting bulbs


Rae and Andre and Brian planted some bulbs - in the pouring rain - at the back of Littleborough's Manchester platform. Let's hope they come up!


Timetable information from GMTC


Peter Garvey, from the Greater Manchester Transport Campaign , who attended our AGM on Monday has asked us to publicise the timetables page on their website

There is a yellow panel at the foot of the home page which if clicked, instantly opens the timetables page. The page is useful, easy to navigate, and is updated on a daily basis.   

Annual General Meeting 5th October 2015


Last night’s AGM began with a minutes silence in respect of the late Jonty Ingham, former chair of FoLSs.

During the meeting itself, we not only completed the necessary formalities, including the presentation of the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s reports, and the re-election of officers, but also had some wide ranging discussions on matters including the provision of parking spaces at Smithy Bridge, rubbish in the Smithy Bridge car park, the state of the viaduct at Littleborough and weeding the canalside ramp at Littleborough.

Sowerby Bridge 175


On Monday Richard and Sheila spent a very enjoyable afternoon at Sowerby Bridge, where they had a tour of the station and the Brontë Garden, and admired the newly installed information boards, before enjoying some excellent cake. The Brontë Garden has won a well-deserved second prize in the ACoRP Community Rail Awards for ‘Best Station Garden’ – do go and see it! We offer our congratulations to the team at Sowerby Bridge – and our commiserations to the rabbits, who failed in their attempts to sabotage the initiative!

Also well worth seeing was the specially commissioned painting depicting a scene in 1840, which was displayed in the Refreshment Rooms.

We had a long and interesting chat with the Friends of Sowerby Bridge Treasurer, Jim Milner, who does so much to secure funding for the impressive range of initiatives introduced at the station. Well done Jim!

Improvements at Smithy Bridge Station


Work has begun on installing passenger information screens, CCTV and help and emergency buttons at Smithy Bridge. The work should be completed and on line in 9 weeks’ time.

Smithy Bridge Crossing fails again


The level crossing at Smithy Bridge train station failed again on Thursday 17 September. Click here for the report.

FoLSs gets a grant from ACoRP for a recruitment campaign


We’re pleased to be able to say that we have received a grant from ACoRP’s Small Grants’ Fund to run a campaign to recruit more members. Watch this space!


John Ingham


It is with great sadness that we learned this morning of the death of John (Jonty) Ingham. Jonty was a longstanding supporter of FoLSs and had served as chair. We offer our condolences to his family. We will miss him too.

Can we avoid a northern powercut?


The Campaign for Better Transport, whose President is Michael Palin,  has relaunched its Right Track North Campaign to call on the Government not to forget its promises on rail in the north. You can lend your support by following @RightTrackNorth Twitter campaign and by joining the 500 and more people who have already emailed George Osborne to ask him to avoid derailing the Northern Powerhouse before it’s even got going!

To find out more, click here.


Everything you ever wanted to know about how your railway is run


Congratulations to the Campaign for Better Transport for having produced the Passengers Guide to Franchising. This easy read guide covers much more than franchising, and explains how Britain’s railway works. Worth a look just for the chart on page 11 showing who is responsible for what. 


A Community Rail Partnership for Calderdale?

A well-attended meeting yesterday evening, with guests from Calderdale and Lancashire (you know, where we used to belong), heard an interesting talk from Matthew Worman about the challenges facing Northern Rail in the run up to the end of their franchise, and the improvements they have been able to make – well done Northern, especially on the much-improved customer service.

Brian Barnsley of ACoRP and our own Richard Lysons stepped up at very short notice in place of TfGM’s Amanda White to talk about a Community Rail Partnership for Calderdale. Thank you Brian and Richard! We began from Matthew’s advice, which had been not to start lobbying now, when the franchise was ending, but to do the groundwork and get in quickly with the new franchise holder.

There was some muttering about re-inventing the wheel (remember ‘The Gritstone Line’?) and a feeling of overwhelm in respect of how much work would be involved, but also a lot of interest in the idea. Brian emphasised the need to have a paid officer, either full-time or part-time, to play the co-ordinating role, and suggested that we begin by looking at how CRP’s elsewhere are structured.

A lot to do! 


Mytholmroyd Station Partnership Annual ‘Do’

Rae has given us the following account of her enjoyable trip to Mytholmroyd.

“I went to this event as a representative of FOLS and it was most enjoyable.  I travelled by train and the lunch was in the Church Centre just next door.  The church itself is a pleasant modern building with lovely flower displays outside.  The food was excellent in true Yorkshire style.  The pub, the Shoulder of Mutton, had proved pie and peas, but there was a laden buffet table with provision for vegetarians and vegans.  There was a selection of desserts too, including fruit but to the delight of my neighbour from Brighouse, sticky toffee pudding.  We were welcomed by Geoff and Sue Mitchell of the Mythomroyd Station Partnership and also Father Gott from the Church of the Good Shepherd. I was particularly pleased that the priest stressed the importance of stations in the community and how important staff were in maintaining stations.  He pointed out how millions had been spend on rectifying vandalism in some small stations when the rail operators would have been able to employ staff for much less - and protected the stations.  He asked rhetorically why it was that the 'little people' (i.e. those who did the work) always lost their jobs first.  This was echoed in the conversation around my table when we raised the question of trains without guards.

The Mayor of Hebden, Councillor Karl Boggis, was full of praise for the work done at the station by the volunteers which all helped to improve the image of the town.   I could certainly recommend a visit to the station which now has landscaped banks where the ramp has been put in.  Hopefully FOLS can manage something of the same. 

We also had a short contribution from Pete Myers, Client Manager of Norther Rail, who announced a photo competition : 'The 'Spirit of Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale';, the idea being to capture something of the town which would attract visitors and make folks think I would like to live/work there.  I didn't ask if you had to be a Mytholmroyd resident to qualify, so I hope anyone interested in photography would go ahead.  The winner will get tickets to London on the Grand Central line.

I talked to him about the problem we had with tab ends and he said he could provide us with the small containers for cigarette butts, which would be emptied by ISS. 

Then we went outside to meet the Scout Road Academy (primary school) and the young artists, who, with the help of Annie Lawson (you may know her from her amusing postcards), had made art work for the station on the theme of 'From Seed to Settee'.  The seed is the cotton seed and the children had visited the local Calder Weaving Company, which, I believe, is the last weaving mill left in the valley - at least of textiles.

The Rail Partnership are really keen to restore and find a use for their handsome, but dilapidated, stone building which apparently has a 'listed' spiral staircase inside.  It looks promising as the representative from the Railway Heritage Trust came up from Oxford for the event.  I chatted to him and he said what a success Littleborough was with its History Centre.  Other people were interested in our station and I suggested to them that they get in touch if they would like a tour round.  In turn we were invited to have a tour of Birchclliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge.  The Chair of the Trustees is Judith Schofield who used to be very active in Littleborough Civic Trust.  As you can imagine I knew many people there!”


National Rail Passenger Satisfaction Survey

The latest National Rail Passenger Satisfaction Survey shows that overall passenger satisfaction by Train Operating Company varied between 72 per cent and 96 per cent.

You can read the full report here.

The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by First Hull Trains (96 per cent), Heathrow Express (94 per cent), East Coast (94 per cent), Grand Central (94 per cent) and Merseyrail (91 per cent).  

The lowest ratings for overall satisfaction were given to Southern (72 per cent), Govia Thameslink Railway (74 per cent), Abellio Greater Anglia (75 per cent), Southeastern (75 per cent), and Northern Rail (79 per cent).

However, as the survey excluded services where a bus replacement service was running, and in the period covered by the survey a Regular Sunday bus replacement service was running between Littleborough and Manchester Victoria we suspect that actual satisfaction rates may have been lower than the survey suggests.  



Saturday morning litter pick

Seven of us turned out in the drizzle to do a litter pick - it doesn't take long when so many turn up. Thank you to everyone who did so! Some of us are now in the photo gallery. 



ACoRP seminar

Richard and Sheila attended an ACoRP seminar in at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester - good to catch up with other station groups and share the difficulties - like the cost of print cartridges! - and successes. 


Shelter roofs are now waterproof

The leaking roofs in the new passenger shelters at Littleborough have now been fixed - the thin trickle of water on the floor is coming in under the glass walls, not raining down from the roof, and the seats are dry!



Jamie McGowan of British Transport Police addresses FoLSs meeting 

On Monday evening Jamie McGowan of British Transport Police (BTP) gave us a fascinating insight into the activities of the BTP under new arrangements for policing our line.

Our next speaker will be Amanda White of TfGM on a Community Rail Partnership for the Calder Valley. Want to know more? Why not join us? 

Membership is only £3 a year. Please email us on our contacts form:



Smithy Bridge to get CCTV etc

According to a poster on the platform at Smithy Bridge, the station is soon to have passenger information screens and CCTV installed. 



Leaking roofs at Littleborough

We've twice been on to Northern Rail about the leaking roofs in the new shelters at Littleborough. Photographing puddles is Sheila's latest hobby! Watch this space for news of the eventual repairs. 


Passenger satisfaction falls again


Passenger satisfaction with Northern Rail continues to decline: in the West Yorkshire area it’s down from 87 per cent in 2010 to 79 per cent in 2014, while in Manchester it’s down from a high of 84 per cent in 2011 to 74 per cent in 2014.

Click here to read the full Passenger Focus Survey


Improvements to Littleborough Station


Regular passengers will have seen that a chicane has been installed in the subway, and we're pleased to say that work to improve the shelters will start in the week begining the 2nd February - yes, we're going to get some protection from the Pennine weather at last!


Meetings update


Richard has been out and about to meetings of HADRAG and Travel Watch North West, while Sheila met representatives of Govia Ltd to talk about the new franchise. The franchise meetings (this was the fourth) are becoming a bit depressing, as it becomes increasingly clear how little scope any of the operating companies will have for improving the service on the basis of a restricted supply of outdated rolling stock. 


Network Rail talk on safety


An excellent presentation at last night's meeting of FoLSs from Nick Jordan, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail, followed by a wide-ranging Q&A session from members.

Extra carriages on trains via Littleborough

press release issued this morning promises that all services will be operated with a minimum of three carriages or 181 seats, whereas at present some services on the route are operated by two carriage trains with 116 seats

 Alex Hynes, Managing Director, Northern Rail said:

“Rail travel is increasingly popular in the north of England placing capacity at a premium.  That is why we have been working with First TransPennine Express and the Department for Transport to ensure customers would not be disadvantaged by the loss of some FTPE trains. 

“In doing so we are delighted to be able to provide more seats for customers on some of our busiest routes.  Through deploying more electric trains to take advantage of newly electrified routes we are able to help maintain capacity for FTPE and add more seats for customers in the North West.”


Meeting with Abellio about the Northern Franchise


Richard and Sheila began the New Year with a meeting with Abellio, who have been shortlisted for the next franchise. A useful meeting, which mainly focused on the need to improve communications with passengers - Abellio being effectively the existing franchise holder, and not doing very well at letting passengers know what is going on.

Richard stayed on afterwards to catch up with representatives from other station groups. 


Photos from the Santa Special


With freebies from Northern, music from Littleborough Band, carols from the choir, and mince pies from STORM, a good time was had by all at today’s Santa Special. We spread some Christmas cheer on the train and at Victoria. Many thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen!


Network Rail Community Rail Day


On Wednesday Richard and Sheila attended Network Rail's Community Rail Day and heard presentations from Network Rail, Northern Rail, British Transport Police, TfGM and ACoRP. The session was very well-attended, with extra chairs having to be brought in. The event signals the start of a new era of co-operation and communication between the vairous organisations represented by the speakers, and we hope this will make it easier to get decisons taken about what needs to be done at our stations.

Of most immediate use was the presentation by British Transport Police - click here for more details


Pre-Santa Special Litter-Pick at Littleborough Station


On Saturday morning Rae, Andre, Maggie. Annie, Richard and Sheila collected 12 bags of litter from Littleborough station, and once we'd finished, Ernie beat all the bags down into his big blue bin!

We'll be asking Northern to install a few more litter bins, as the length of the platforms warrants more than one at each exit.

Meeting with Arriva about Northern area franchise


On Thursday Sheila and Richard met Arriva representatives to present the Friends' wish list for the new franchise. It was an enjoyable meeting - we felt we were listened to, and Richard was most impressed when, during a discussion about passengers reporting service delays and cancellations, Arriva asked if our passengers would make use of a phone app. You bet we would!


Is Northern's new ticket rule unlawful?


In an article in the October edition of Rail, Barry Doe argues that the new conditions Northern has attached to its off-peak tickets may in fact be unlawful. Doe is looking forward to a passenger buying a ticket from a ticket machine within the off-peak period, refusing to pay the excess, and challenging this in court.

Meantime Northern claim that as they have received only 200 complaints, the travelling public are not unduly upset. Excuse Me! MPs have a rule of thumb whereby one actual written complaint indicates a further 50 complaints below the waterline – which translates into 10,000 complaints about the abandonment of the afternoon off-peak period.

Waiting in the ticket office, or on the platform, over the past week it seems passengers are talking about nothing else. So, if you’re unhappy with the new ticketing arrangements, email Northern at


Meeting with Department of Transport about the Northern Franchise


This morning Rae and Sheila met Paul Salveson and two DfT officials who wanted to know our thoughts on the renewal of the franchise. It was a very constructive meeting. Asked what three things we most wanted we said:

We also had quite a bit to say about Northern’s tendency to let ticket refuseniks get off scot-free, while at the same time penalising paying passengers by doing away with the afternoon off-peak period!




Richard, who is also a member of STORM, has produced some publicity ideas for STORM, which we just might be cribbing! Watch out for our new logo, which will make us much more recognisable as a station users group. 


Passenger information when trains are disrupted


Passenger Focus has published new research into rail passengers’ experiences and needs when trains are delayed.  It was carried out at the request of the Office of Rail Regulation.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus’s chief executive, said “Despite improvements in recent years, it is clear that many passengers are still dissatisfied with the way the rail industry deals with delays."

The research found that nearly 30 per cent of passengers were dissatisfied with the way the industry deals with delays.

Those given a reason for the delay are significantly more likely to be satisfied with its handling than those who are not. Passengers need speedy, accurate and consistent information to help them feel in control of their travel plans.  

The report recommends that the industry:

Bear these recommendations in mind next time you get in touch with Northern Rail about late running on our line!

You can find the full report here


Demolition of the signal box at Smithy Bridge


Network Rail have informed us that the signal box at Smithy Bridge will be demolished between the 6th and 12th October. Anyone wishing to photograph the signal box before it disappears can do so before the work begins on the 6th October.

The full text of Network Rail’s letter is reproduced below.


I am writing to inform you that Network Rail needs to undertake essential improvement works near your property. These improvements are a vital aspect of our strategy to provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway fit for the 21st century.

This work will involve:                  

These works are necessary to complete the level crossing renewal project at Smithy Bridge following the transfer of the signaller to Rochdale power box. The gate box is now redundant with the all utilities disconnected and operational equipment removed. The removal of the box is necessary so that the building does not become a liability or hazard to the operational railway.

The above works will take place between 6th and 12th October 2014 during daytime hours. Some work however will need to be completed during midweek nights for activities which can only be completed when train services are not in operation.

 A road closure is planned on 25 October from 08:00 – 20:00hrs to remove the redundant gas pipe from the road which was connected to the box. This will be confirmed with advanced signage on site before the closure.

I hope this information is helpful and we apologise for any inconvenience these essential works may cause. However, if you have any additional questions or concerns, please visit or telephone our 24-Hour National Helpline on 08457 11 41 41."


Steam Railway


This month’s edition of Steam Railway gives a big mention to Richard Greenwood, MBE, Chair of STORM and other rail groups, as a pioneer rail preservationist.

Many of Richard’s photos can be found here in David Hey’s Collection


Castleton 175


On Monday 15 September, representatives from Northern Rail, Transport for Greater Manchester, The Friends of Castleton Station and rail user group STORM will come together to mark the special anniversary.

The Mayor of Rochdale, Carol Wardle will also be in attendance along with local school children and dignitaries to help with the celebrations starting from 1.30pm on the Manchester bound platform.

The Friends of Castleton Station and members of STORM will then show film from the 1960s and display photographs of Castleton Railway through the years in the Blue Pits public house from around 2.30pm onwards.


Who was William Sagar?


Steve Roberts has sent us the above photo of a memorial stone in the graveyard of St James’s church on Calderbrook Road. The stone commemorates a Mr Sagar, and there is another one just behind it, to Mr Sagar’s wife. 

The stone reads: To the memory of William Sagar From the staff of L&Y Ry Station Littleborough as a token of the esteem  in which he was held by all

Can anyone tell us anything about Mr Sagar: when he was employed on the railway and what he did? We’d love to know! Use the contacts form to send us an email.


Campaign for Better Transport plans protest against Northern Fare Increases


We have been forwarded the following email:

“I am writing to you with an urgent request and a big favour. We are currently campaigning against the regressive evening peak fare increases on Northern Rail which come into force on Monday 8 September and were hoping to organise an action outside of Manchester Piccadilly Station on the morning of the increase. 

I am wondering if you could contact your Northern branches to see if there is any appetite to support this action and join us in the morning rush hour to protest, have a photocall and hopefully generate some media interest? Manchester Friends of the Earth are happy to support but it would be great to get some of the rail unions behind this as well. 

As you know we have launched a petition to oppose this which we will be handing in on the same day at the DfT and it is picking up some traction, thanks for your support with this so far.

We will have to move really quickly in regards to the evening fares action so if you could let me know either way if anyone from TWNW could attend that would be great. Times and details still to be confirmed but looking to be around 8am at Manchester Picc. 

Thanks, look forward to hearing from you

Best wishes

Martin Abrams

Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

16 Waterside, 44-48 Wharf Road, London N1 7UX, 020 7566 6489, 07765577689”

Anyone interested should contact Martin direct. 


Bidders for the Northern franchise announced


The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a shortlist of bidders for the Northern franchise competition. As the current service provider, Northern, is a joint Serco Abellio venture, and the Serco Abellio partnership is not on the list, passengers at Smithy Bridge and Littleborough can expect to see changes. The short-listed bidders are:

As well as setting general targets for providing more frequent services, the franchise agreement includes requirements to upgrade the ageing rolling stock on some routes. Bidders for the Northern franchise will need to put forward proposals to replace Class 142 and 144 Pacer trains. 

In March, the current operator of the Northern franchise, the Serco-Abellio joint venture, was given an extension to keep control of the route until February 2016.

Both franchises will be awarded in October 2015 and start in February 2016.


Passengers have little trust in Northern


In research carried out by Passenger Focus into the levels of trust passengers have in their local train operating companies, Northern came out with poor scores overall, but performed particularly badly on trust in the passenger/train operator relationship.

Passengers talked about how interactions were often limited to the more functional aspects and that train operators seldom seemed to engage with customers on the emotional or individual level. Passengers said that they trusted train operating companies to get them safely from A to B within a reasonable timescale, but not to deliver anything more than this. Even so, all train operating companies have relatively low scores for Trust in Service, which comprises key day-to-day service measures including:  •punctuality/reliability • value for money • problem resolution • helpful staff on trains • helpful staff at stations.

Once confidence in a reliable service is established, higher levels of trust can be created through building closer relationships with customers. The factors that make up Trust in Relationship are: • being truthful • acting with honesty and integrity • building long-term relationships • treating customers fairly • communicating well with customers. Only a few train operating companies were perceived as having formed strong relationships with passengers, but Northern came in third worst, after London & South East operators, where there are high proportions of commuters. Passengers talked about the train operating companies lacking honesty and transparency – both in terms of confusion around ticketing options, but also because information on delays and alterations was often inaccurate or contradictory. Many customers also talked about feeling distant from the train operating companies and perceived them as making little attempt to communicate with customers and counteract the negative stories they heard in the press.

Passenger Focus notes that while improving punctuality is a key starting point, communicating openly and honestly with passengers when there are any problems is also vital, and improving performance on these measures could help put passengers in a more positive state of mind when things do go wrong.

You can find the Passenger Focus report here.


FoLSs calls for improvements to the Northern franchise


In responding to the DfT’s current stakeholder consultation on the renewal of the Northern and TPE Franchises, FoLSs has called for the franchising process for the Northern franchise to result in:

i.Commitments to monitor the achievement of the franchising objectives and to report back to passenger representatives and the community rail sector on progress made and on any barriers to progress;

ii. A reliable, passenger-friendly rail service that meets the needs of all sections of the populations of Littleborough and Smithy Bridge;

iii.Recognition of the heritage value of our railways to the local tourist industry;

iv.A commitment to improved punctuality of rail services;  

v. A plan for developing Littleborough as a transport hub providing access to the countryside around the town;

vi.A concrete plan for phasing out poor quality rolling stock in as short as time as possible;

vii.Transparency of the criteria used to inform spending decisions;

viii.A commitment to the electrification of the Calder Valley line;

ix.A commitment to high levels of customer service and monitoring of these;

x.Plans for comprehensive revenue collection;

xi.A level of financial support for community rail groups.

The consultation document (86 pages) can be found here

For an electronic copy of the FoLSs submission (6 pages) please email the Acting Secretary on the contacts form.


Underpass at Smithy Bridge being improved

Following discussion with FoLSs and other community representatives, the underpass at Smithy Bridge is being cleaned out and repainted. 


Smithy Bridge planters go to Mills Hill


With the closure of the signal box at Smithy Bridge the water supply used to water the baskets has been cut off. Network rail are looking into the possibility of providing an alternative supply, but in the meantime, rather than have scruffy planters on Smithy Bridge Station, we have given them to the newly formed Mills Hill group.



Professor Paul Salveson is to speak on electrification of the Calder Valley Line at our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 14th October in Littleborough's Coach House.


Community Rail Event, Manchester Town Hall


Dilys and Sheila represented FoLSs at today's Comunity Rail Event chaired by Councillor Doreen Dickinson. Sheila gave a presentation about the work done by FoLSs, the 175th Annivesary, and our plans for the future. It was good to share experiences with other community rail groups and to learn from each other. Among the issues raised were the provision of water to stations, and how a lack or water makes things difficult for volunteer gardeners, and the problems arising out of responsibility for stations and their environs being split between so many different organisations.


Network Rail working with local schools


Network Rail staff recently visited Smithybridge Primary school to deliver a very important message regarding railway safety.

Children from Year 2 to Year 5 attended an interactive assembly where they were able to gain a greater understanding of railway safety, in particular level crossings. Some great volunteers were provided by the school to take part in a quiz and dress up.


Thank you ACoRP!


ACoRP have kindly given us a grant towards the costs of photocopying the history and the commemorative edition of the newsletter.


Coffee and biscuits!


Your Committee met today to run through the arrangements for the 4th July. So far, we're expecting 40 people - if you're thinking of coming along, but haven't let us know, please do send us an email, or we might run out of coffee and biscuits! Here's what's happening.


High Viz Vests for Litter Pickers


Northern Rail are providing us with high-viz vests for when we resume litter-picking. If you'd like to help withb this, please get in touch on the Contacts Form.


Rae Street


Our Chair, Rae Street, is recovering from knee surgery, but hopes to be back in action - or something like! - in time for the Anniversary. We wish Rae all the best for a speedy recovery. 


175 - The Story of Littleborough Station


Sheila went into Manchester this morning to collect 100 copies of 175 - The Story of Littleborough Station, the account of our station's history since its opening in July 1839. It's a good feeling to see it completed.

The history will be on sale from the 4th July, price £3, or £3.75 inclusive of postage. If you'd like a copy sending out to you, please email us on the contact form, and we''ll ask you to send us a cheque before we mail out the history to you. 

As the history was written in a matter of weeks, it is a text-only version, but we aim to publish an illustrated edition later in the year. In the meantime, do take a look at the aerial shots of the station in the 1920's and 30's on Britain from Above.




Richard has been putting the case for the Manchester to Bradford Line to be included in the next round of electrification plans. Richard has joined HADRAG (Halifax and Disctrict Rail Action Group) in order to strengthen links with colleagues in Calderdale, and he recently attended their AGM. Richard urges all FoLSs members to contact their MP and local councillors on this important issue.


Northern Rail & Littleborough Lions to help with the anniversary


Northern Rail have generously offered to buy some bunting to decorate Stephenson Square for our 175th Anniversay, and Littleborough Lions will fix this up for us - thank goodness, for your committee are not good on ladders!

Holy Trinity School Band to play at anniversary


We've just had it confirmed that the Holy Trinity School Band will be playing at our 175th anniversary on Friday 4th July. Why not come along? 11 am in Stephenson Square.


Fothergill Engineered Fabrics


In a very generous move, Fothergill Engineered Fabrics are sponsoring a plaque to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the opening of Littleborough Station. The plaque will be unveiled on Friday 4th July, by our MP, Simon Danczuk.

As most of you will know, Fothergill go back almost as long as the Station, having been founded in 1847 by a partnership between Thomas Fothergill and Andrew Harvey.

This is not the first time FoLSs has received sponsorship from Fothergill, and we are extremely grateful for their support and their continuing interest in the Station.


Meeting with Northern Rail Station Manager


Sheila had an introductory meeting with Stephen Green, Northern Rail’s Station Manager for Littleborough. In addition to being able to bring Stephen up to date with what FoLSs has got planned for Littleborough’s 175th anniversary, Sheila got some useful advice on organising litter picking days.

Northern have kindly offered to supply high viz vests and other equipment and to provide a safety briefing for a small corps of volunteers. Northern will also arrange for the rubbish that we collect to be taken away.

Want to help? Free on Farmers’ Market Sundays? Please email us on the contact form. 


Railfuture North West


On Saturday 12th April Richard and Sheila, as individual members of Railfuture (RF) joined a group of RF members in Littleborough’s History Centre for a meeting of RF North West. The meeting was preceded by a presentation from a group of Belgian rail enthusiasts – interesting to hear their admiration for Britain’s branch network (services on a Sunday – my word!!), and their regret that in Belgium there is no such thing as a community rail group.

FoLSs will be renewing its group membership of Railfuture shortly.


TfGM visit to Littleborough


TfGM’s Rail Partnership Development Officer, Steve Magner, visited Littleborough Station on the 11th April, where he met Rae Street and John Stanley.

Steve was the bearer of two pieces of good news: the platform shelters are to be enclosed, and, as befits its status as part of a heritage station, the waiting room is to be repainted in the browns and whites of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.


ACoRP event in Birmingham


On Wednesday 26th March Sheila represented FoLSs at an ACoRP Station Adopters’ event in Birmingham. It was her first meeting and she enjoyed being able to share problems and take advice from more experienced members from all around the UK. There were useful presentations on insurance and on winning awards, plus the opportunity to share good news.


Northern retains franchise


The DfT (Department for Transport) have announced the confirmed extension to Northern Rail of their franchise to February 2016.  Well done Northern! A lot of work has gone into securing the extension and some of us have gotten quite tense waiting for the outcome.

FoLSs looks forward to continuing its work with Northern.




Contact Information

Friends of Littleborough Stations

Meeting times

Membership fees per annum...£5 individuals and £8 per household.