The Anonymous Widower

A Modern Branch Line For Leigh

There is a group called the Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum or LENDF, who are proposing to reinstate part of the Bolton and Leigh Railway, to create a branch line to from a reopened Kenyon Junction station on the electrified Liverpool and Manchester Railway to a reopened Leigh station.

This Google Map shows the Southern part of the route, where it connects to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway at the former Kenyon Junction station.



  • The scar of the Bolton and Leigh Railway is clearly visible in line with the A579, which was built alongside the railway North of the A580.
  • The Kenyon Junction station site can also be spotted and was recently used as a work site for the electrification of the line.

There is certainly enough space on the former station site to create a two platform station, with perhaps a bay platform to handle a shuttle train to Leigh.

This Google Map shows, where the line goes at the Northern end.


I would think that Amberleigh Way follows the route of the Bolton and Leigh Railway.

One major factor defines how far the line could go.

It would probably be prudent to restrict the length, so that the chosen train could do a round trip in under thirty minutes, thus giving a two trains per hour (tph) service with just one train and no passing loops or complicated operation.

Four tph would probably require two trains, a passing loop and some clever train scheduling.

And then you mustn’t blow the budget!

Building The Line

I would build the line as simply as possible.

  • Single-track.
  • Single-platform tram-style stations with no footbridges, as at say Galashiels station.
  • Step-free access to the train.
  • No electrification.
  • No passing loop, as not needed with one train and 2 tph.
  • One set of points to connect the branch to the main line for rolling stock transfer.

Kenyon Junction station would be more complicated, as it would need.

  • Two long platforms for Liverpool and Manchester trains.
  • A bay platform for the Leigh branch.
  • A footbridge and other necessary facilities.
  • Appropriate car parking.

Kenyon Junction station would be the most expensive part of the project.

Train Operation

Train operation would be under rules called One Train Working, bur probably also applying the sort of rules under which trams work.

  • Lower speed.
  • Warning systems
  • Very visible trains
  • Driver keeping a good look-out.

This picture shows a two-car diesel multiple unit working under similar rules at its terminus in the centre of the German town of Zwickau.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

Note these points about the train and the infrastructure in the Zwickau Zentrum terminus of the Vogtlandbahn

  • The train is more-or-less standard.
  • The good driver visibility.
  • The orange warning lights.
  • The track laid like a tram track into the street.
  • No electrification.
  • The tram-style stop, designed to fit the trains using it.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists cross the track  in designated places after a good visual check for a train.

As this train goes about a hundred kilometres from this terminus, it still has visible couplings and other railway paraphernalia. These could probably be faired-in for safety and only exposed for recovery of a failed train.

Wikipedia calls this type of operation the Zwickau model, but I prefer to think of it as train-tram, as the train works as a train and then reverts to tram operation on the streets or perhaps through somewhere like parkland or moorland.

Note that in Zwickau, although the trains and the local trams have different gauges, they share tracks, using a unique three-rail track.

As there are no trams in Leigh and if they were, they would be the same gauge as the train, this is not a problem in Lancashire.

The Train

Any suitable and available self-powered train could be used.

  • A diesel multiple unit like a Class 172 train.
  • A fully developed Class 230 train
  • A simple bi-mode train like a Class 319 Flex train.
  • A train with onboard storage, perhaps charging using electrification in the bay platform at Kenyou Junction.
  • One of Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains fitted with a pantograph and onboard energy storage.

I always think, that the train should be a quality unit to attract passengers.

Whatever train is chosen, the bay platform at Kenyon Junction station and all the other platforms on the branch must be sized to fit the train to ensure level access.


It is certainly possible to create a 2 tph service for this new branch line at an affordable cost using a standard train, working to the same rules as the Vogtlandbahn in Zwickau.



February 6, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Kenyon Junction is a possible reopened station in Lancashire on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. See A Modern Branch Line For Leigh […]

    Pingback by A Look At New Station Projects « The Anonymous Widower | February 7, 2017 | Reply

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