LNWR ROE GREEN JN - SPRINGS BRANCH No1(9¾ miles))
1.9.1864 Ellenbrook - Springs Branch;
1.11.1869 Platt Bridge Jn - Fir Tree House Jn
(Pass) 5.5.1969 Ellenbrook - Tyldesley;
2.11.64 Tyldesley - Springs branch;
(Gds) 6.1.1969 Roe Green Jn - Howe Bridge West;
11.2.1975) Howe Bridge West - Bickershaw Jn;
27.7.1994 Bickershaw Jn - Springs Branch.
Ellenbrook; Tyldesley; Chowbent r/n 1901 Howe Bridge; Hindley Green; Platt Bridge.
Ellenbrook Station, Hough Lane, Tyldesley No 1, Tyldesley No 2, Chanter‘s Siding, Howe Bridge East Junction, Howe Bridge West Junction, Hindley Green Station, Sowcroft’s Sidings, Bickershaw Junction; Platt Bridge Junction (controlled both the line from Springs Branch and the Whelley line), Crompton’s Siding, Springs Branch No 1.
In the 1860s the L&YR and the LNWR realised that if they were to compete for traffic from the Lancashire coalfield they would need a shorter route from Manchester to Wigan and in 1864 the LNW opened their line from Eccles to Wigan. Passenger services were withdrawn in stages in 1964 and 1969 whilst in 1995 Bickershaw Jn to Springs Branch Jn was the last section to close to all traffic although track was not lifted until late 2003.
Guided busway proposal
GMPTA commissioned a feasibility study into a busway which would be routed along the line from Leigh to Ellenbrook and the East Lancashire Road into Manchester.
In February the Government authorised a £26M scheme for an Eccles and Leigh guided busway. In May GMPTE applied for a Transport & Works Order. A public enquiry was held in September.
In May they applied for a government grant of £9m to buy 15 low-floor vehicles.
In February it was reported that this scheme now had a low priority and was unlikely to go ahead.
In April plans were published detailing the proposed route of the 13 mile busway which is now planned to be up and running by 2013.
Route when open
From Ellenbrook station (SD727018) the Eccles to Wigan line headed west passing under Sale Lane (A577) and Hough Lane (A5082) to Tyldesley station. Just west of Tyldesley the line to Leigh dropped down to Speakman’s Siding while this line turned slightly NW to Howe Bridge where it bridged the Bolton to Leigh Line with east and west curves to Atherton Junction. Continuing west through Hindley Green it reached the triangular junction at Bickershaw with the Pennington line going south and just to the west it passed over the GC line with connections to that line and Low Hall colliery. At Platt Bridge it passed over Liverpool Road (A58), Walthew Lane (A573), the Whelley line and then under the line to Ince Moss Junction to reach Springs Branch Junction (SD593034).
The Ellenbrook loop line, one of Salford's series of cycleways, ends at the site of Ellenbrook station. From the opposite side of Newearth Road a footpath follows the course of the line all the way to Hindley Green station which was located adjacent to Leigh Road (A578). A good path follows the Howe Bridge West curve as far as the site of Atherton Junction (now buried under the A579) but the east curve has been completely obliterated by a housing estate. Beyond Hindley Green a deep cutting has become waterlogged and overgrown and for the next mile to Bickershaw Junction one has to be content with following a footpath on the south side of the formation. The Eccles to Wigan line closed in 1975 but next section was retained until 1992 to serve Bickershaw colliery.
A single track that was in situ from Bickershaw Junction to the WCML until until the early 2000s has now been removed. The GC Wigan branch passes under this line about one mile west of Bickershaw Junction and a complex junction was formed between these and other lines. A spur from the down LNW line dived under main line and a branch to Low Hall Colliery crossed the GC by a second bridge. There is also evidence of a third line alongside the GC line and a bridge under the LNW line but there is no trace of this on maps dating from the 1850s. All these bridges and trackbeds are still intact except that the line to Low Hall Colliery disappears west of the GC line. At Platt Bridge a low steel barrier has been placed across the embankment presumably to prevent budding motocross riders heading straight for the WCML. Little now remains of the short spur from Platt Bridge Junction to Fir Tee House Junction.
No trace of any station except retaining walls and ramp from road at Hindley Green.
Bridge over A573 at Walthew Lane Platt Bridge removed, though buttresses remain; between Ellenbrook and Hindley Green all overbridges/underbridges demolished/landscaped except Hough Lane (A5082) overbridge. All bridges intact west of Hindley Green except overbridge that carried the Fir Tree House Jn to Amberswood West Jn line.
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