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Heritage Lottery Funded

East Lancashire Railway Receives £194,300 National Lottery Support

The East Lancashire Railway has received vital and timely financial support of £194,300 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help it recover from the impact of Coronavirus.

Lockdown forced the cherished heritage attraction in Bury, Gtr Manchester to cease operations between March and August - depriving it of vital income and plunging its future into uncertainty.

The new funding will be used to undertake essential track maintenance, cover the additional costs incurred with making the railway Covid safe and upgrade its online presence.

ELR Chairman Mike Kelly said: “Thanks to the National Lottery and its players we can now ensure the railway keeps running - providing wonderful heritage days out for visitors of all ages.

“Recent months have been the most challenging in our history, threatening our very existence and after a huge effort by our volunteers and a small cohort of staff we were overjoyed to be able to re-launch heritage services successfully last month.

“This funding helps secure the future of our railway by giving us the means to make essential repairs, upgrade our digital presence and cover the investment we have made to make the railway Covid safe and reassure our visitors we are ‘Good to Go’.

“At the ELR we have the determination to survive and so we are hugely grateful and re-energised that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time – it’s an important and welcome lifeline to our volunteers and staff who are passionate about sustaining a heritage railway for the benefit of all.”

The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund. £50million was made available to provide emergency funding for those most in need across the heritage sector.

The UK-wide fund aimed to address both immediate emergency actions and help organisations to start thinking about recovery.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as The East Lancashire Railway during this uncertain time.”

Shortly after lockdown was introduced, the East Lancashire Railway Support Fund was launched in a bid to raise funds to secure the railway’s future. Total donations to date have now reached £145,000, while it also received a further £125,000 from the East Lancs Railway Preservation Society.

Like The East Lancashire Railway, other charities and organisations across the UK that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of the Coronavirus outbreak are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This money is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and spans the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, including heritage of local and national importance. By playing The National Lottery, people up and down the country are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combating the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund is now closed for applications. To find out more about how The National Heritage Emergency Fund is supporting the sector at this time please visit:

To find out more about the National Lottery Good Causes , visit:

Important Notice

ELRPS Members online tickets at discounted Privilege Rate

Because of COVID 19 it has been necessary to restrict the number of passengers capable of travelling on the East Lancashire Railway. 


The East Lancashire Light Railway Company has temporarily suspended the use of Working Members Travel Passes (unless undertaking railway associated duties) and the three annual round trips available to ELRPS Members. 


I am sure that you will appreciate that at this difficult time it is essential that the railway maximises every opportunity to generate income.


To help counter these restrictions Members of the ELRPS may purchase tickets online at a discounted Privilege Rate.


Adult: £7.50

Child Aged 3-17: £5.50

Concession £5.50

Chris Moore


07840 110448

The East Lancs Railway Returns - © Emma Seddon

© Emma Seddon

Reflections on Reopening

On Saturday the 8th August 2020, a great many of ELR supporters filled the first train of the day to ensure they could, once again, enjoy the unique experience of steam travelling from Bury to Rawtenstall and returning. Passengers also took advantage of the DMU (117) shuttle operating from Bury to Heywood and returning.

Passengers, staff and volunteers were welcomed to our manned stations where they had their temperature taken and used hand sanitiser before proceeding. For travelling passengers their contact details were taken.

Those first lucky passengers were hauled by 80097 Standard 4 which was looking a picture and gleaming in the early morning warm sunshine.

All the passenger carriages had been prepared to take up to a 50% loading to ensure social distancing could be achieved. Passengers were greeted by a carriage steward and shown to their allotted seats. A one way system accessing and exiting the carriage was successfully carried out. Closed doors in each carriage were clearly marked.

The grey timetable allowed for a longer turnaround so each carriage could be thoroughly cleaned. Operationally the weekend went smoothly and surpassed all our expectations.

Whilst not every journey had a full complement of passengers, financially the ELR made a small surplus. It was also noticeable that there were increased sales in the pubs as passengers enjoyed a drink before their journey or popped after travelling.

ELR Chairman, Mike Kelly

Standard 4 80097 departs Ramsbottom - © Emma Seddon

© Emma Seddon

ELR Finally Reopens – An Historic Day – 8 August 2020

"However you try to describe the re-opening of the railway today, its was both a relief and also a great ‘behind the scenes’ endeavour.

"Whilst we had extra Covid 19 measures in place our staff, volunteers and passengers enjoyed a great day travelling behind 80097 Standard 4 which made three trips throughout the day from Bury to Rawtenstall. The train was crewed by Johnny Valentine and Simon Denton.


"Our thanks to Gary Laxton and his crew member (didn’t get his name) who ran the shuttle service from Bury to Heywood.

"Arriving at Rawtenstall, passengers were greeted by Graham Law our Station Manager.

"Whilst we have got underway its baby steps for now. David Layland was our guard for the day.

ELR Chairman, Mike Kelly


Important Notice

Important message from ELR Chairman Mike Kelly

Owing to the serous financial challenges facing the railway over the coming months there will be no free travel for ELRPS members. The same applies to non-working members. However should any members wish to travel they will receive the privilege rate.

For ATOC, HRA card holders and reciprocal arrangements with other heritage railways will receive the privilege rates.

Re-opening on 8th August


East Lancashire Railway reschedules re-opening for August 8th

The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has enhanced its safety measures as it prepares to welcome back visitors from Saturday (August 8th).


The much-loved heritage attraction had intended to resume passenger services last weekend after closing its doors for four months amid the corona-virus outbreak.


But it put those plans on hold in order to properly assess what the surprise further lock-down measures announced for Greater Manchester on the evening of July 30th would mean for the public, staff and volunteers alike.


After careful consideration to reassure visitors, it was decided to implement a range of further safety measures in addition to the extensive plans already in place for the reopening.


These new measures will require all visitors to book tickets in advance of travel.


There will also be an enhanced track and trace system with visitors details collected via text message.


Visitors and staff will be required to have their temperature taken upon arrival at the station and individuals that exhibit a high temperature will not be permitted to enter the attraction. 


Family groups will be requested not to mingle with other people outside their own bubble and seating will be restricted to maximise social distancing.


Face masks will be compulsory for all visitors and additional cleaning measures and sanitation facilities will be available. One way systems for entry and exit from stations will be in place and social distancing must be maintained at all times.

The railway’s hugely-anticipated return follows months of uncertainty, during which its long-term future was cast into doubt.


ELR Chairman Mike Kelly commented: “Naturally, after weeks of preparation, we were disappointed not to be able to welcome back visitors and our volunteers last weekend as we had initially planned. But the safety of our passengers and volunteers is our number one priority.


“We’ve spent this last week enhancing our already robust safety measures and are really thrilled  at the prospect of finally bringing the ELR out of its deep slumber and offering our visitors again the unique experience of a heritage railway.


“We want to thank everyone for their continued patience as we’ve adapted our reopening plans in line with the latest Government guidelines. We’ll continue to be responsive to the situation to operate as safely as possible at all times.”


The ELR’s two pubs, The Trackside and Buffer Stops, successfully reopened in July. Visitors and  Passengers will still be able to visit both as they are operating outdoors only offering  a wide range of real ale drinks and refreshments at Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations.


The East Lancashire Railway operates from Bolton Street Station in Bury, Gtr Manchester and was opened in 1987. It runs on a 12.5-mile line between Heywood in Greater Manchester and Rawtenstall in Lancashire. The original line carried passengers until 1972. It was formally closed in 1980 after being used to transport coal in the intervening years.


View the revised timetable and book tickets here.

Important Notice


Re-opening postponed for one week

Important note following new guidelines

The East Lancashire Railway has had to pause its plans to reopen on 1 August following the new localised restrictions from the government. 

"Having reviewed the new rules for Greater Manchester, and with staff, volunteer and passenger safety as a prioroty we have had to make the difficult decision to delay the reopening of passenger trains for one week."

The railway's two pubs, The Trackside Bar and the Buffer Stops, will both still be open to the public.

Passengers who have pre-booked tickets for the weekend of 1 - 2 August will be contacted directly to arrange for their reservation to be transferred to an alternative date.

The East Lancashire Railway will review its position on a weekly bases and another update will be provided on our future plans.

Find the amended timetable here.

East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society Ltd.


Message from the Chair

I am delighted to be able to advise members that the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society Limited is now a Registered Charity – Charity Number 1190609.


My thanks go to Howard Ford the Society’s Financial Director for all his efforts in progressing the application and to John Tate and David Wright for providing the historic information relating to the formation and early operation of the Society which was critical to our application.


This has been a major milestone in securing the future of the Society and opens the doors for discussion with HMRC in respect of Gift Aid and Taxation and will allow us to investigate grant opportunities.


As always, we have ensured that the existing rights and privileges of Society membership remain unchanged.


Thank you for your continued support of the Society.


Chris Moore



Shakedown train - © Liam Barnes

© Liam Barnes

Shakedown trains

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Shakedown trains this weekend. Whatever role you played, be it passenger, Signalman, Guard, Footplate, Station Staff, Meeters/Greeters, Buffet Staff, Train Cleaner, Steward, S&T, Civil Engineering and any other role that contributed; a massive thank you for your help in preparing the railway to reopen to the public.

Over the next few days we shall be finalising the plans for this coming weekend when we can finally see the public back on our trains, albeit with a few extra guidelines to make their day more enjoyable. We will combine all the notes from various people over the last weekend to see if there is anything we need to change before this Saturday and Sunday.

We hope you all enjoyed the two days of running and whilst the Shakedown trains had a serious function to enable us to reopen, it was good to see so many people who we haven’t seen for over 4 months.

Rory Lushman

Link to ELR re-opening details page


ELR Reopens to Run Trains from 1st August 2020

The time is finally here! The East Lancashire Railway is thrilled to be able to announce that we will begin running limited services from Saturday 1st August. We will be following Government guidelines to ensure the safety of visitors, volunteers and staff.


We wouldn’t have made it this far without the compassion and support of our community, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Now we ask that you help keep us on track by supporting our re-opening and picking up one of our travel tickets!


This is the first stage of a phased re-opening that will see the railway running on 1,2,8 and 9 August. We hope to keep operating past these dates and we will be reviewing our approach going forwards. In the meantime you can purchase one of our advance tickets and join us as we get back to doing what we do best, steaming through the Irwell Valley!

Find the amended timetable here.

Link to The Trackside


Trackside and Buffer Stops welcome first visitors since lockdown

This weekend, as it opens its bars to the public, the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) will welcome its first visitors since the start of lock-down. It will host paying customers again at the two pubs it operates, The Trackside at Bury Bolton Street and Buffer Stops at Rawtenstall, following all government advice in relation to keeping records of customers visiting.

Staff will be provided with all the necessary PPE and there will be numerous hand sanitiser stations available. Enhanced hygiene procedures will be in place to include the toilets. At The Trackside, staff will serve drinks from behind a Perspex screen, two customers at a time will be permitted to order, whilst at Buffer Stops, a table service will be in operation.

The Trackside and Buffer Stops, opening times will be subject to change as the lock-down eases. In line with social distancing measures, and to protect staff and customers, visitors will only be able to enjoy drinks on outside tables at both venues and all payments are to be contactless.

Both venues are known for their selection of real ales and have received fresh deliveries from numerous local brewers ahead of their reopening.

ELR Chairman Mike Kelly commented: “We’re delighted to be able to start welcoming visitors back to the ELR again. The last three months have been the most challenging in our history, but this weekend marks a major milestone in our journey towards passengers returning. I’m really looking forward to throwing the doors open on both The Trackside and Buffer Stops after they have been closed for so long.”

Buffer Stops.jpg
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