Carnforth railway station

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Carnforth National Rail
Carnforth railway station.JPG
Local authorityLancaster
Coordinates54°07′48″N 2°46′16″W / 54.130°N 2.771°W / 54.130; -2.771Coordinates: 54°07′48″N 2°46′16″W / 54.130°N 2.771°W / 54.130; -2.771
Grid referenceSD496706
Station codeCNF
Managed byNorthern
Number of platforms2
DfT categoryF1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase 0.207 million
2014/15Decrease 0.204 million
2015/16Increase 0.207 million
2016/17Decrease 0.198 million
2017/18Decrease 0.175 million
Original companyLancaster and Carlisle Railway and Ulverstone and Lancaster Railway
Pre-groupingLNWR, Furness Railway and Midland Railway joint
Post-groupingLondon Midland and Scottish Railway
22 September 1846L&CR station opened as Carnforth-Yealand[1]
February 1864L&CR station renamed Carnforth[1]
6 June 1857U&LR station opened as Carnforth[1]
2 August 1880The two stations were replaced by a single station[1]
May 1970West Coast Main Line platforms closed
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Carnforth from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal
Carnforth railway station
The station clock
Barrow train arrives in 1971
Carnforth station, shortly before main line electrification.
1882 Furness Railway signal box preserved at the NW end of the station

Carnforth railway station serves the town of Carnforth in Lancashire, England. The building was designed by architect William Tite and was used as a location in the 1945 film Brief Encounter. It is now operated by Northern and situated 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Lancaster on the West Coast Main Line.


Carnforth railway station was opened in 1846 by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (L&CR). It had a single platform and was a second-class station. It became a junction in 1857 when the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway arrived from the northwest, the station was its southern terminus. The Furness Railway took over the U&LR in 1862 and became the second major company operating to Carnforth.

The station was enlarged during the 1870s and in 1880 received trains from the Midland Railway following the commissioning of a south-to-east direct curve to the Furness and Midland Joint Railway that created a triangular junction. The L&CR was taken over by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) and Carnforth was operated under joint management by Furness, Midland and LNWR. Station personnel wore a uniform with the initials CJS for Carnforth: Joint Station. The Furness Railway erected a distinctive stone-built signal box to the north-west of the station in 1882, used until 1903, and this survives preserved as a listed building.

A major rebuilding project, including a 300-yard long platform (currently used by northbound services), took place in 1938 with government funding - it brought the number of platforms in use to six. In 1944, the government approved the rebuilding of Carnforth MPD into a major regional railway depot.

The film Brief Encounter was partly filmed at the station in February 1945. The station clock became a powerful icon through repeated use in the film.

Withdrawal of main line services[edit]

The West Coast Main Line platforms were closed in May 1970, following the withdrawal of local stopping passenger services between Lancaster and Carlisle two years earlier. The platform walls facing the fast lines were demolished, cut back and fenced off before the commissioning of 25 kV overhead electrification in 1974. This made Carnforth a branch line station, even though it is situated on the main line, as WCML trains cannot call. In 2011, Network Rail rejected proposals to reopen the mainline platforms, stating that there would be too few passengers to justify slowing down mainline trains.[2] Only the former platforms 4 & 5 (now renumbered 1 & 2) remain in use, as the old 'Midland bay' that once handled trains on the Joint line to Skipton & Leeds is also disused and no longer rail-connected.

Responsibility for the signalling at the station is divided between Preston PSB (main line) and the one surviving manual ex-Furness Railway signal box at Carnforth Station Junction, sited just past the junction between the Barrow & Leeds lines. This has acted as the 'fringe' box to the PSB since the main line was resignalled in 1972/3. Two other boxes (F&M Junction & East Junction) were closed & demolished when the northern side of the triangle (avoiding the station) was decommissioned in 1998.


After lying in a semi-derelict state for many years, the station buildings were refurbished between 2000 & 2003 and returned to commercial use. An award-winning Heritage Centre and the "Brief Encounter" Refreshment Room, a number of shops and a travel/ticket office occupy the buildings. The outer half of the non-operational up main (southbound) platform is in use as the access route to the subway, the active platforms & tea room. The station has been operated by several different TOCs since the demise of British Rail in 1995 - its most recent change of operator (from TransPennine Express to Northern) came in April 2016.


The booking office is staffed part-time (six days per week, closed Sundays & public holidays) - it is run by an independent retailer on behalf of the local authority but sells a full range of National Rail tickets.[3] Both platforms have waiting rooms and step-free access (by the aforementioned subway ramps) from the station entrance, whilst train running information is provided by automated P.A announcements, timetable posters and digital information screens.

There is also a micropub called The Snug which was the first of its kind to be set up in the North West and has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide[4] They host an annual beer festival inside the Heritage Centre in mid to late November.


Carnforth is served by Northern, who operate the following routes:

For the Northern franchise that started in April 2016 until March 2025, all Furness Line services have been transferred to a single operator, Northern, with TransPennine Express services ceasing. Management of the stations on the route, including Carnforth, has also been transferred as part of the franchise changeover. The timetable will be improved from 18-20 trains per day to 21 each way and more through trains to and from Manchester Airport (from four to eight, marketed under the 'Northern Connect' brand).[7]

Carnforth is also the headquarters of the West Coast Railway Company.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
  2. ^ Johnston, Howard (10 August 2011). "Regional News". Rail. Peterborough. p. 24.
  3. ^ Carnforth Station Details National Rail Enquiries station page; Retrieved 25 November 2016
  4. ^ "The Snug Micropub".
  5. ^ GB National Rail Timetable, May 2018; Table 82
  6. ^ GB National Rail Timetable, May 2018; Table 42
  7. ^ Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT. Retrieved 14 December 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Bare Lane
(Limited service)
Barrow to Windermere
Lancaster   Northern
Furness Line
Lancaster   Northern
Leeds to Morecambe Line
  Historical railways  
Bolton-le-Sands   Lancaster and Carlisle Railway   Burton and Holme
Line open, station closed
  Furness Railway
Ulverston and Lancaster Railway
Line and station open
Bolton-le-Sands   Furness and Midland Joint Railway   Borwick