Carnforth railway station
|Number of platforms||2|
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections|
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Original company||Lancaster and Carlisle Railway and Ulverstone and Lancaster Railway|
|Pre-grouping||LNWR, Furness Railway and Midland Railway joint|
|Post-grouping||London Midland and Scottish Railway|
|22 September 1846||L&CR station opened as Carnforth-Yealand|
|February 1864||L&CR station renamed Carnforth|
|6 June 1857||U&LR station opened as Carnforth|
|2 August 1880||The two stations were replaced by a single station|
|May 1970||West Coast Main Line platforms closed|
|National Rail – UK 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.|
|UK Railways portal|
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.
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. 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.
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 They host an annual beer festival inside the Heritage Centre in mid to late November.
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. 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carnforth railway station.|
Carnforth is served by Northern, who operate the following routes:
- regional express services from Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness via the Furness Line (four each way) using Class 156 "Sprinter" and Class 185 Desiro DMUs.
- local services along the Furness Line to Barrow-in-Furness (hourly) and the Leeds to Morecambe Line to Skipton and Leeds (seven trains per day each way Mon-Sat, five on Sundays). Some services continue beyond Barrow to Millom or Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast Line. Northern services are operated using Class 153 and 156 diesel multiple-unit trains and occasional Class 142 on the Furness line while the Leeds line is operated by Class 142, 144 and 150 units and occasionally Class 158 sets.
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).
Carnforth is also the headquarters of the West Coast Railway Company.
- 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.
- Johnston, Howard (10 August 2011). "Regional News". Rail. Peterborough. p. 24.
- "The Snug Micropub".
- Carnforth Station Details National Rail Enquiries station page; Retrieved 25 November 2016
- GB National Rail Timetable, May 2018; Table 82
- GB National Rail Timetable, May 2018; Table 42
- Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Train times and station information for Carnforth railway station from National Rail
- An extensive website about Carnforth Railway Station
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
Barrow to Windermere
Leeds to Morecambe Line
|Bolton-le-Sands||Lancaster and Carlisle Railway||Burton and Holme|
Line open, station closed
Ulverston and Lancaster Railway
Line and station open
|Bolton-le-Sands||Furness and Midland Joint Railway||Borwick|