The Anonymous Widower

A First Visualisation Of Headbolt Lane Station

This visualisation of the proposed Headbolt Lane station in Kirkby has appeared on several web sites.

Wikipedia also says that the station will have one platform and as there is a Class 777 train on the left hand side of what I take to be the station building, I would assume that is the platform.

It looks an interesting station layout with a wide concourse with trains on one side and buses on the other.

I can’t work out from the image, if there is a long shelter alongside the train, as one sees on some tram stops. But if it was felt necessary one could surely be fitted to give passengers some covering in inclement weather.

As the station also features five-hundred parking spaces, these must be arranged around the station on this side of the railway, which is currently just a single track.

The Plans On Rail Future

This page on the Rail Future web site is entitled A Station Back In Skelmersdale and it indicates the following.

  • A map shows a spur, which is connected to the Kirkby and Wigan Line, by a large triangular junction between Rainford and Upholland stations, running North to Skelmersdale.
  • Services of two tph between Liverpool and Skelmersdale and an hourly service between Manchester and Skelmersdale are proposed.
  • Rainford station would appear to exchange a direct link to Manchester for a direct link to Liverpool. But then Rainford is in Merseyside and Upholland and Skelmersdale are in Lancashire.

With these proposals the junction and the spur would only need to be single-track, with Skelmersdale station only needing a single-platform.

Could the following simplifications also be done?

  • Upholland and Rainford stations become single platform stations
  • The track between the two stations is mothballed or even removed.
  • There would only be a single track between both stations and Skelmersdale station.

There’s certainly scope to save money on construction and maintenance.

Could this single track and platform design be the reason, why Headbolt Lane station only has a single platform?


  • The current Kirkby station, handles four tph to and from Liverpool City Centre on a single platform.
  • The line becomes double-track to the East of Fazakerley station.
  • I suspect double-track is needed to allow 4 tph

I suspect Headbolt Lane station could handle four tph to and from Liverpool, but there may need to be some double-track between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane stations.

I also estimate that to travel the return journey on the approximately eight miles between Headbolt Land and Skelmersdale station will take about thirty minutes.

Would this mean that it were possible to create a timetable, which allowed four tph between Liverpool and Headbolt Lane stations and two tph between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale stations?

  • The single platform would be bi-directional.
  • Two tph out of four arriving at Headbolt Lane station would reverse and go back to Liverpool.
  • The other two tph would continue to Skelmersdale.
  • The two tph returning from Skelmersdale would continue to Liverpool.

It would be one for the Busby Berkeley of train time-tabling.

The alternative of running four tph between Liverpool and Skelmersdale would need the following.

  • Full double-tracking between Fazakerley and Skelmersdale stations.
  • Two platform stations at Kirkby, Headbolt Lane and Rainford, which would need step-free bridges.

It would be a much more expensive scheme.

How Much New Electrification Would Be Needed?

Given the politics of third-rail electrification, I suspect the scheme will use as little as possible.

If the battery-equipped Class 777 trains can run the return journey between Kirkby and Skelmersdale stations, then all track to the East of Kirkby station could be without electrification.

This would probably also mean that the current power supply wouldn’t need to be upgraded to cope with additional electrification.

Could There Be A Two tph Service Between Skelmersdale And Manchester?

I don’t think a single-track line between Upholland and Skelmersdale would rule this out, but having two two tph services might need a second platform at Skelmersdale station.

On the other hand, the Manchester and Liverpool services could be timed to allow a cross-platform interchange at Skelmersdale.

This would mean that someone wanting to go between say Sandhills and Bolton would go direct with a quick change at Skelmersdale.

Could There Be Through Running Between Manchester And Kirkby?

Four tph between Liverpool and Headbolt Lane station with two tph extending to Skelmersdale, running through the single-platform stations at Kirkby, Headbolt Lane and Rainford, would probably make the current Manchester and Kirkby service difficult, if not impossible.

But as the change at Kirkby will be replaced with one at Skelmersdale, it would be more of an inconvenience than a disaster.

In addition, if two tph were to be run between Manchester and Skelmersdale and the trains were timetabled to meet at Skelmersdale, this would effectively be a pseudo-through service.

A single track could be left between Upholland and Rainford for engineering trains and possibly the occasional freight train.

Strategic Car Parking


  • The new Headbolt Lane station, is going to be provided with five hundred car-parking spaces.
  • The new Skelmersdale station will probably have adequate provision.
  • At the present time, Rainford and Upholland stations don’t appear to have any parking.

I would suggest, that a good look is taken at car and bicycle parking at all stations to the East of Headbolt Lane station.


It appears to be a scheme, that has been designed to keep costs to a minimum.

But that probably means, it is more likely to get built!

I also like the concept of a large station concourse alongside a single platform and track, which will probably be without electrification. It should be very safe too!

It is strange, that I’ve not seen that layout before either in the UK or on the many railways, that I’ve used abroad.



August 23, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,


  1. The single line between Rainford and Upholland is needed for freights to the small terminal near Headbolt Lane.

    Comment by Chris Grayson | August 24, 2020 | Reply

  2. Thanks. Butthat wouldn’t be a problem.

    Comment by AnonW | August 24, 2020 | Reply

    • I was going to send a link to Don Coffey’s cab ride coverage of the “bin liner” train referenced in the first comment but unfortunately it has been removed from his play list following his recent cull which he intents to explain more fully soon. Believe me the reversal into depot of said unit takes an age at a crawl of 3mph and under local radio control (walkie talkie) supervision. The single line section is locked out of use until loco confirmed clear and into the yard.

      Whilst the current service is infrequent ?2 trains weekly I believe there are proposals to increase this dependent on it’s efficacy.

      Pure speculation on my part but checkout

      I would draw your attention to the final paragraph and the comments re Canada Dock Branch and road link proposals. There is considerable and voracious opposition to the road scheme and calls for more freight to be conveyed by rail!
      I am uncertain as to whether 48trains daily refers to 24 in 24 out or, as I read it, a total of 96 movements Either way forward movement over the local network would surely prove problematic. If increased capacity to WCML proves necessary where could the extra traffic be routed?

      (Off topic: In fear that the Don Coffey cab rides might disappear I would urge viewing! My top recommendation would be the Manchester Airport – Leeds captioned edition. Much to learn re eco-driving.)

      Comment by Fenline scouser | August 24, 2020 | Reply

      • I seen some of Don’s videos and linked to one. They’re good! Just has a bad day. Went to Bletchley to photograph the flyover and my camera battery died.And there was no socket anywhere!

        Comment by AnonW | August 24, 2020

      • Addendum;

        In reference to the train station design my first impression was of a cheapest option, German prefabricated kit house. Having thought about it for a bit maybe this is a cunning quick build project solution.

        Comment by Fenline scouser | August 24, 2020

      • Hi. Your observations aren’t quite correct. I to have seen Don excellent cab ride to Knowsley waste transfer terminal. The train does not reverse of the running line, it enters a siding adjacent to the running line and then reverses at 3mph from there. So it actually clears the running line quite quickly. Likewise when loaded it reverses from the loading sheds and onto the adjacent siding, from there it then enters the running line in a forward direction. Also you mention two trains a week. There are actually four train movements a day. Two inward empty and two loaded heading for Teesside and the EFW facility.

        Comment by Neil Crawford | December 14, 2020

  3. I would suspect that the station has been designed, by the same architect, who did Maghull North and Warrington West.

    The kit house at Warrington West has everything you need including excellent toilets.

    But the two previous stations are on a much more challenging site, which in both cases is a cutting.

    The two stations cost £20.5million and £13million respectively.

    Horden station, which doesn’t have lifts cost £10.55million.

    Lifts seem to add a lot to the cost.

    Obviously Headbolt Lane doesn’t need lifts, so this will reduce the cost.

    I should note, that when I was helping to design chemical plants, I was always told height costs money.

    But if it follows the pattern of the other two stations, it won’t lack for facilities.

    I first went to Liverpool in 1965 to University and I’ve kept going back ever since.

    Now, I sponsor cancer research at the University and I get the impression, they make research money go a long way. Like East Enders, they are also good scroungers.

    I also think, that being surrounded by good architecture means that Liverpudlians won’t accept second best, when it comes to thinks like railway stations, public squares and statues!

    They also accept the unusual, like the superb Oriel Chambers and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal extension in from of the three Graces.

    Comment by AnonW | August 24, 2020 | Reply

    • I don’t mean anything second-rate by scroungers, but when I worked for ICI in Runcorn designing instruments, I always remember that some of the components we needed came from unusual sources.

      In one instrument we needed an extremely flat optical bench. One Liverpudlian engineer found a source of extremely old and rusty C-section steel beams. But all the steel had crystallised out, so they wouldn’t distort by a micron. He found a company, with a milling machine to mill them flat. After painting, they were totally solid and withstood hitting from a stacker-truck.

      Liverpool is never thought of as a great engineering city, outside of building ships and Meccano. But they do seem to manage the difficult. Some of the detectors for the Lare Haldron Collider were actually build in the workshops of Liverpool University.

      Comment by AnonW | August 24, 2020 | Reply

    • If it comes off it would be great for the people for the area. Because there’s been no decent transport service ever since I can remember. Arriva deliberately cut off the most important routes to get to.

      Comment by Paul | May 13, 2021 | Reply

      • Thanks for that! It does look as though it’s going ahead.

        Comment by AnonW | May 13, 2021

  4. The line to Kirkby from Liverpool runs over the M57 on a single track bridge. I believe the road authorities have to pay to make it twin track as that was what it was prior to the Mway being built. A Liverpool to Wigan line can be built via Skem. The train would reverse at Skem.

    Outside of London, people do not like changing trains. So a Liverpool-Skem service, then charge for a Skem to Wigan service would not not be successful.

    With the new 777 battery trains there is no need to electrify lines.

    Comment by John | August 31, 2020 | Reply

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