Manchester to Preston Line

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Manchester to Preston Line
Overview
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Lancashire
North West England
Operation
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern Rail
First TransPennine Express
Technical
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Manchester-Preston Line
West Coast Main Line
Blackpool Branch Lines
Preston
Leyland
Euxton Junction
West Coast Main Line
Euxton (L&Y)(closed 1917)
Buckshaw Parkway
to Blackburn
Chorley
Rawlinson Bridge(1837–1841)
to Wigan
Adlington
Horwich Branch(closed)
Blackrod
Horwich Branch(closed)
Horwich Parkway
Lostock
to Wigan via Westhoughton
Ribble Valley Line
Bolton
Moses Gate
Farnworth
Kearsley
Dixon Fold(closed)
to Bury
Clifton
Agecroft Bridge(closed)
Pendleton Bridge(closed)
to Wigan, Southport and Kirkby
Salford Crescent
to Manchester Victoria
to Liverpool
Deansgate
Manchester Oxford Road
Manchester Piccadilly Manchester Metrolink
West Coast Main Line
to Huddersfield and Glossop


The Manchester to Preston Line runs from the city of Manchester to Preston, Lancashire. It is largely used by commuters entering Manchester from surrounding suburbs and cities, but is also one of the main railway lines in the North West and is utilised by TransPennine Express regional services to Blackpool and Barrow-in-Furness, it formerly featured Scotland services until 2014. Electrification ends just north of Deansgate. It was announced on 9 December 2009 that the line would be electrified, this follows the announcement in July 2009 that the Chat Moss route between Manchester and Liverpool is to be electrified in the next few years.

The line is one of the busiest in the North West, with at least seven trains per hour in each direction during the off-peak daytime timetable. The line speed is currently 75 mph, but could be increased to allow faster running for the high speed express services. When the line was an extension of the Manchester-Bournemouth line, the trains would go faster than 75 mph but this was due to a low amount of other trains running at the time (London Midland, TransPennine Express, and Northern ran during the times Virgin ran but infrequently)

History[edit]

The line was opened as far as Bolton in 1838 by the Manchester and Bolton Railway, then extended in 1841 by the Bolton and Preston Railway. These were amalgamated, via the East Lancashire Railway, as part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

Route[edit]

The line begins at Manchester Piccadilly, which offers rail links to most large cities in the country. Trains using the route will call at the through platforms 13 and 14 on the west side of the station. It then follows the route of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway as far as Deansgate, where it uses the Windsor Link to reach Salford Crescent and joins the line from Manchester Victoria.

From Manchester Victoria it goes through Salford Central, Salford Crescent and Clifton and then before reaching Bolton, it passes through Kearsley, Farnworth and Moses Gate following the Irwell Valley for much of the route. After Bolton, the line cuts through the western suburbs of Bolton including Lostock and Horwich, before passing through the town of Adlington and on to Chorley. It passes through Buckshaw Parkway, which opened in 2011, and joins the West Coast Main Line at Euxton Junction.

To its north, the line merges into the West Coast Main Line. To the south, many trains continue on the line to Manchester Airport. Some services also enter it from the Ribble Valley Line at Bolton.

Operators[edit]

Three operators operate services along the length of the route:

  • TransPennine Express operate express services that only call at selected stations on the route. They are generally services that start at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool North, Windermere and occasionally Preston. They follow the line to Manchester Piccadilly and continue south to Manchester Airport. TransPennine Express operate three 'portion trains' each day - they all split at Preston. These are:
  • 08:47 Manchester Airport to Blackpool North and Windermere
  • 12:47 Manchester Airport to Blackpool North and Windermere
  • 17:32 Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness and Blackpool North

Freight and diversions[edit]

The line is an important diversionary route at weekends, used in conjunction with the Crewe to Manchester Line to divert away from a large section of the West Coast Main Line if required. The convenience is that this only adds 45 minutes to a journey and negates the need for costly bus replacement services. Some freight still uses this line (such as stone trains from the Peak District to a distribution terminal at Hope St Salford and "Bin-liner" refuse trains from Pendleton to Scunthorpe), especially during the peak periods during the day. It is, however, a primary passenger route in the North West of England.

Trains[edit]

Class 185 trains are now the most frequent units on the line: working for TransPennine Express to Blackpool, Barrow and Windermere. In the other direction, they all usually work to Manchester Piccadilly and onto Manchester Airport although engineering works can mean units working to Manchester Victoria instead. Prior to 2007, Class 175 trains worked the majority of these services before the 185s took over. Between May 2001 and December 2006, they worked all Barrow and Windermere services and the majority of the Blackpool services. However, they never worked to Scotland due to this being a Virgin Cross Country service until December 2007.

Northern operate a variety of rolling stock for their services, with Class 142, Class 150 and Class 156 units all appearing regularly on the line. Class 153 units also use the line - mainly seen on a booked daily service between Stockport and Blackpool North in the evening (usually coupled up with another unit for strengthening purposes).

See also[edit]