East Lancashire Line

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Not to be confused with the heritage East Lancashire Railway or the historical East Lancashire Railway 1844–1859.
East Lancashire Line
System National Rail
Locale Lancashire
North West England
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern Rail
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
East Lancashire Line
  ( WCML )
  ( To Blackpool )
  River Ribble
  Whitehouse Jct ( WLR )
  ( To Ormskirk )
  ( WCML )
Lostock Hall
  ( To WCML )
Todd Lane Junction
Bamber Bridge
Hoghton Tower (1847-1848)
  ( To Chorley )
Cherry Tree
Mill Hill
  ( To Bolton )
  Blackburn Tunnel
  To Clitheroe )
  Rishton Tunnel
Great Harwood
Church & Oswaldtwistle
Accrington  ( To Bury )
Rose Grove
  ( To Hebden Bridge )
Burnley Barracks
Burnley Central
New Hall Bridge Halt
Reedley Hallows Halt
  Brierfield Tunnel
Bott Lane Halt
  ( To Skipton )

The East Lancashire Line is a railway line in the Lancashire region of England, which runs between Preston and Colne, through Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley (Central) and Barracks).

It is operated by Northern Rail. Services on this line stop at every station on the line, although Pleasington, Huncoat, Hapton and Burnley Barracks are now request stops only.[1] It was designated by the Department for Transport as a community rail line in November 2006.[2]

Network Rail refers to the main part of this line, from Preston to Gannow Junction (where the mainly single-line branch to Burnley Central and Colne diverges) and onwards to Burnley Manchester Road and Hall Royd Junction, as the Roses line.[3]


The line was built by the Blackburn and Preston Railway and the Blackburn, Burnley, Accrington and Colne Extension Railway. Both companies were absorbed by the East Lancashire Railway on 3 August 1846 and 21 July 1845 respectively. The East Lancashire Railway was, in turn, absorbed by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway on 13 May 1859.

The line connected end-on at Colne with the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway's line to Skipton and Bradford. This 11½ mile (18½ km) link closed in 1970. The Skipton - East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership campaigns to reinstate it.

In the 1870s the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway built the North Lancashire Loop (also known as the Great Harwood Loop), a 9-mile (14 km) route through Great Harwood, Simonstone and Padiham, which bypassed Accrington. The line between Padiham and Rose Grove opened in 1875; west of Padiham it opened two years later as a result of difficulties in constructing the embankments between Great Harwood and Simonstone. Regular use of the North Lancashire Loop ceased in 1957; the route closed completely in 1964, with only the section from Rose Grove to Padiham Power Station remaining until 1993.[4]


Trains from Preston to Colne usually begin at Blackpool South, on the Blackpool Branch Line, which makes the whole length of the line a total of 80 km (50 mi).

Services via the Roses line routing encompass the Caldervale Line semi-fast trains from Blackpool North stopping at Preston, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley Manchester Road, heading towards West Yorkshire, currently terminating at York.


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