Atherton railway station

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This article is about railway station in England. For the station in California, see Atherton (Caltrain station).
Atherton National Rail
Atherton Station - - 1806561.jpg
Atherton railway station in 2010
Place Atherton
Local authority Wigan
Coordinates 53°31′44″N 2°28′44″W / 53.529°N 2.479°W / 53.529; -2.479Coordinates: 53°31′44″N 2°28′44″W / 53.529°N 2.479°W / 53.529; -2.479
Grid reference SD684037
Station code ATN
Managed by Northern Rail
Number of platforms 2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05  0.200 million
2005/06 Increase 0.226 million
2006/07 Increase 0.231 million
2007/08 Increase 0.239 million
2008/09 Increase 0.369 million
2009/10 Decrease 0.368 million
2010/11 Increase 0.411 million
2011/12 Increase 0.424 million
2012/13 Increase 0.448 million
2013/14 Decrease 0.434 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Greater Manchester
1 July 1888 Station opens as Atherton Central
1954 Station renamed Atherton
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Atherton from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Atherton railway station serves the town of Atherton, Greater Manchester, England, and is the main station on the line between Wigan and Manchester on the Manchester to Southport Line, and according to Strategic Rail Authority figures is the busiest station on the line (excluding Wigan & Manchester; Salford Crescent is technically not on the line).

The station is located 11¾ miles (19 km) north west of Manchester Victoria with regular Northern Rail services to Kirkby and Southport.

Atherton is the nearest station to Leigh, one of the largest towns in Britain without its own railway station. The 582 bus service provides a frequent service to Leigh and Bolton, a connection not overly promoted by Transport for Greater Manchester.

Although it lies some distance from the centre of the town, the present Atherton station was originally named Atherton Central to differentiate it from Atherton Bag Lane (on the line from Bolton Great Moor Street to Kenyon Junction) which was closed in 1954[1] and Howe Bridge on the line between Wigan North Western and Manchester Exchange.


The station dates from 1888, when the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened a direct line between Windsor Bridge Junction and Crow Nest Junction (near Hindley) to shorten its main line between Manchester & Liverpool and avoid the congested Bolton area. It was well used from the beginning and was subsequently quadrupled shortly after the turn of the century, later carrying through expresses from Manchester to Blackpool, Windermere and Glasgow (again to avoid Bolton) in addition to Liverpool workings.

The station became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway during the Grouping of 1923, and then passed on to the London Midland Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948.

The cutbacks of the mid to late 1960s saw all the long distance services diverted via other routes, rendering the additional tracks obsolete and they were taken out of use on 21 November 1965 (the now-derelict outer platforms they served are still just visible). During the early to middle 1970s, the station had a sparse service outside weekday peak periods (see British Railways timetable 95, 1974) but in more recent times, the frequency levels have improved considerably with financial support from GMPTE, with a resultant increase in patronage.

When Sectorisation was introduced in the 1980s, the station was served by Regional Railways with support from the PTE, an arrangement that continued after the Privatisation of British Railways with co-operation from the current operating company.


Monday to Saturday daytimes, there are two departures each hour to Manchester Victoria (one of which continues through to Todmorden) and two per hour towards Wigan Wallgate - these continue onwards to either Southport or Kirkby northbound.

In the evening there is an hourly service in each direction to Manchester Victoria and Wigan.

Recent timetables provide a convenient connection (although a platform change must be made which is not possible for wheelchair users) at Hindley for services to Bolton.

On 23 May 2010 a Sunday service was introduced as a 12-month trial by GMPTE, providing an hourly service until the early evening.[2][3] Previously no trains had called at the station on Sundays since the summer of 1966. This service remains in operation in the current 2013-14 timetable.[4]



  1. ^ Atherton Bag Lane
  2. ^ "New Sunday Train Services" (PDF). Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  3. ^ Friends of Walkden Station Weblog Retrieved 2010-02-25
  4. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2013-14, Table 82 (Network Rail)


External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Daisy Hill or
Hag Fold
  Northern Rail
Manchester-Southport Line