News Archive

Archived news from the old website
29th August 2009
Blackrod Line to be Electrified - Good News or Bad?

For decades, there has been talk of electrifying the line between Manchester and Preston. For many observers, it’s a “no-brainer”, removing the need for diesel trains between Manchester and Scotland as well as the obvious advantages for local services.

Well, now it’s actually been given the green light. The line between Manchester and Euxton Jct is to be “wired” along with the section between Preston and Blackpool. Modernisation at last!... Well, sort of. The good news is tempered by the fact that the trains that are earmarked for the upgraded line are 20-year-old cast-offs from the Thameslink franchise. What a surprise!

Perhaps of more concern is whether this could be another nail on the coffin for Blackrod. If the reluctance to spend anything on Blackrod is a sign of a hidden agenda to run Blackrod down - and believe me, it wouldn’t be the first time that a station was deliberately sabotaged for that purpose - it’s possible that Network Rail will take the opportunity and claim that it’s “not cost effective” to upgrade Blackrod.

I sincerely hope that these concerns turn out to be groundless and I certainly don’t want to put a dampener on what is potentially very good news for Blackrod Station. However, attempts to get Network Rail to explain their reasons for overlooking Blackrod in their Action Stations initiative (see below) have so far met with little or no success. It took two weeks to get an automatic acknowledgement (!) and a further three to get an actual reply. When the reply did come, it was two lines long and completely failed to answer any of the points raised - especially the Action Stations issue.

Electrification could be very good news for Blackrod, but only if it avoids being washed away in the wake.

29th November 2009
Blackrod earmarked for closure?

Last year, at the December timetable change, Northern and Network Rail completely wrecked Blackrod’s timetable, diverting almost all trains to Manchester Victoria instead of Deansgate, Oxford Rd and Piccadilly. The result is that passengers no longer have the choice of three convenient drop-off points in the city and all connections for onward travel involve a trek across the city on foot or by tram.

graphOne conclusion to draw from this is that Northern and Network Rail are deliberately sabotaging Blackrod, by forcing passengers to use Adlington or Horwich Parkway - or road transport, thereby “proving” that our local station is surplus to requirements. Given that prior to the change, Blackrod had a level of use comparable to Horwich and greater than Adlington and Lostock. Blackrod has managed this in the face of near zero investment and despite being unmanned and without any of the mod-cons which the other local stations enjoy (electronic trin information and adequate waiting areas).

Any attempt to show that Blackrod is less viable than those stations, is completely false, which the graph below shows quite clearly.

So here we are, one year on and Blackrod is yet again being snubbed, as Lostock is identified as being in need of investment and Blackrod is left off the Action Stations list. It’s hard not to conclude that Blackrod’s fate has already been decided.

29th August 2009
6201 Princess Elizabeth at Blackrod

6201 1As previously reported, 6201 Princess Elizabeth today hauled the second steam tour to pass through Blackrod during August.

The train is pictured here entering Blackrod station

Photo by Harry Gardner





The train is pictured here passing along the Douglas valley, shortly after going through Blackrod Station.

The return leg of this rail-tour is due to pass Blackrod at around 7.45 this evening.






29-08-2009_6201_Blackrod_2Lastly, the “going away” shot...

Click for YouTube Video

Thanks to Dave Moss for taking these
two photos.





24th August 2009
More Steam for August

Hot on the heals of 6233 Duchess of Sutherland’s trip via Blackrod on the 8th of this month, we are to be treated to a second dose of steam this weekend.

This time, 6201 Princess Elizabeth will be in charge of the train, which has the same itinerary as the previous run.

Times for Blackrod:

8.30 am (Northbound)

7.45 pm (Southbound)

8th August 2009
Duchess through Blackrod

6233_2009-08-08Steam has been something of a rarity through Blackrod since the 1960s. This is due in part, to restrictions in the “loading gauge” at Chorley. However, recent work on the flying arches north of Chorley Station, has meant that the restrictions are now effectively lifted. This meant that for the first time in many years, if EVER, a Princess Royal Class “Duchess” was able to pass through our station today.


6233 Duchess of Sutherland is on its final few months of main-line running before undergoing a major overhaul, which will see it out of action for 2 years or so.

The loco will return later this evening at around 7.45 pm

Videos of the tour at Blackrod are available on YouTube HEREHERE and HERE ...

Thanks to Ian Fitter and “TheMeehan123”

26th November 2009
Blackrod Junction Signal Box Refurbishment

This is rather old news now, but Blackrod Junction signal box has now been refurbished by Network Rail. Although the work will no doubt extend the life of our Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway relic, it has sadly involved the removal of several original features.

The original sash windows have now been removed in favour of a modern plastic alternative, which, along with the uPVC cladding, has resulted in a decidedly modern and anonymous look to the box. Also gone, are the wooden finial on the northern roof apex, the 1950s maroon signs and the external walkway, which had been considered unsafe for several years.

There will be a full article about the history of the signal box published in the next issue of Magazine, the news publication of the  Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society.

26th November 2008
Another Blackrod Website...

Anyone who uses Blackrod regularly may be interested to hear that this isn't the only Website dedicated to our favourite Station:

Going Off the Rails - inane ramblings and occasional insight into Blackrod Station

The website is a "blog" by Philip Morgan, who chronicles the experiences and frustrations of being a Blackrod to Manchester commuter.

Blackrod Station Under Threat ?

Philip's blog (see above) highlights some worrying changes ahead for Blackrod Station at the change of timetable next month. You can read the full detail there, but the gist is as follows :

Services from Blackrod will no longer call at Oxford Road, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly, being routed instead into Manchester Victoria. 

The implications are substantial. Whereas the current service provides three, convenient stops in the heart of the City, the new arrangement will provide just one, which is hardly central. Perhaps more worrying is that the options for onward travel are drastically cut, with most changes now requiring a trek across town to Piccadilly. 

All this is sure to discourage use of Blackrod Station, particularly for shoppers and those who wish to travel to the airport or south on the West Coast Main Line. The poor commuter will probably have to grin and bear it since there are few, if any other options. - all this at a time when Manchester wants to introduce a congestion charge and *encourage* the use of public transport!

The switch to Manchester Victoria is a return to the bad old days before the construction of the Windsor Link which enabled Blackrod's service to be routed across town to Manchester Piccadilly. Prior to that, the number of services which called at Blackrod was barely half of what it is today.


If usage of the station drops, it might be the excuse that Northern and Network Rail need to close it in favour of Horwich Parkway - a non-starter for most Blackrod residents.


30th June 2008
Jim Markland

Jim Markland, railwayman and author, passed away on Friday. Jim was known to north west railway enthusiasts as the author of the highly entertaining "Bolton Engineman" trilogy of books, which chronicle his experiences on the footplate as a Fireman working out of Bolton Shed. The books included memories of working on the Horwich branch

Sadly, the reunion for Bolton Shed, which Jim was instrumental in arranging, will take place this evening at the Ribble Steam Railway without him.



June 2008
Class 47 move

47_routelearnerGreen liveried class 47 D1912 (47812) was involved in a route-learning trip today. 






30th May 2008
Blackrod Loco Works (!)

Old news perhaps, but... 

Horwich Works may now be a memory as far as loco building and maintenance is concerned, but Blackrod can claim to be keeping the tradition alive, albeit in a very small way. 

Hidden within the borders of the town is a site occupied by Bryn Engineering who are based in Wigan and involved in the restoration of steam locomotives. Amongst their customers are a number of heritage lines such as the Swanage, ELR, Ribble Steam Railway and the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway. They have even manufactured components for main-line stalwart; 6201 Princess Elizabeth.

At the Blackrod site, there is a Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 saddle tank and ex BR class 08 diesel shunter 08628. More information here.

27th May 2008
Steam through Blackrod in June?

"Black Five" no.45231 is due to move from the ELR at Bury to Carnforth as the first stage of a move to Fort William. It seems likely that the loco will pass through Blackrod en-route.

When times become available, I'll post them here.


22nd Feb 2008
Deltic through Blackrod!

The sole main-line-registered class 55 "Deltic" passed through Blackrod this morning. The light-engine move was scheduled so the veteran loco could collect coaching stock from Carnforth, ahead of the Deltic Pioneerrailtour which runs tomorrow from Liverpool.

A return light-engine move is planned for Sunday (24th Feb), which should see 55022 Royal Scots Grey heading south through Blackrod at about 18.50.


[Click images to enlarge]


Updates on the way...

I have neglected this site a little recently, concentrating on instead. I do however have some new material to add here, including some revelations about the area around the former Hilton House station. I also have some interesting photos taken in the final days of the Horwich Branch when it was still being used to serve the foundry after the loco works had closed.

There is also a new website on the way, produced by Ian Fitter, specifically about Horwich Station. At present, there is just a holding page, but Ian promises some interesting material, including memories of the last train to leave the station before closure in 1968.

New-look "Whistler" visits Blackod...

40145Class 40 no. 40145 passed through Blackrod twice on Saturday 28th hauling the Fishwick Centenarian rail tour.
This was the first outing for the loco since being repainted and named East Lancashire Railway at the ELR just days before. The repaint has caused some controversy in preservation circles since no class 40 ever carried the "Large Logo" livery whilst in service. Class 37s, 47s and 50s were most associated with the variation of corporate blue which only came into use after the class 40s had been withdrawn.

In the 70s and 80s, class 40s, with their characteristic whistling turbochargers, were a common site and sound at Blackrod, hauling passenger and mail trains as well as freight trains in and out of Horwich Locomotive Works.

Again, thanks to my Dad for taking the photo. There are more photos of this train on my other website , taken 30 mins later at Preston.

30th June 2007
MORE Steam in 2007

Black_5_2007-06-30Less than two months after a visit by "The Duke" (see below), Saturday 30th June saw another steam locomotive pass through Blackrod. This time it was "Black 5" no. 45407 hauling the Cumbrian Mountain Express from Manchester Victoria to Carlisle - via the Settle & Carlisle line on the outward journey and over Shap on the return.
This photograph was taken by my father (thanks Dad!) on the morning Northbound run. The train also passed through on its way back to Manchester that evening.