Caldervale Line

Caldervale Line
Caldervale Line
Locale West Yorkshire
Greater Manchester
North West England
Yorkshire and the Humber
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Northern Rail
Track gauge Standard gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
[v · d · e]  Caldervale, Huddersfield, and York and Selby lines 
Continuation backward
North TransPennine service continues to
Straight track
Scarborough, Middlesbrough, and Newcastle
Junction from left Track turning right
Junction to left Track turning from right
Station on track Straight track
Station on track Straight track
Hebden Bridge
End station Straight track Unknown BSicon "vSTRa"
Blackpool North
Junction from left Unknown BSicon "vSTRrf" Interchange head
Manchester Airport Airport interchange
Interchange end + Hub
Junction from left Track turning right
Manchester Victoria Manchester Metrolink
+ Hub
Interchange on track + Hub
Manchester Piccadilly Manchester Metrolink
Interchange on track + Hub
Manchester Oxford Road
Abbreviated in this map
North Transpennine service calls at Birchwood,
Abbreviated in this map
Warrington Central, and Liverpool South Parkway
End station
Liverpool Lime Street
 Current services 
  • Northern Rail services:
    • York–Leeds–Halifax–Blackpool North
    • Selby–Halifax–Huddersfield–Wakefield Westgate
    • Huddersfield–Manchester Victoria
    • Leeds–Dewsbury–Brighouse–Manchester Victoria
    • Leeds–Halifax–Manchester Victoria
    North TransPennine services
    (via Leeds and Huddersfield)
    • Hull–Manchester Picadilly
    • Middlesbrough–Manchester Airport
    • Newcastle–Manchester Airport
    • Scarborough–Liverpool Lime Street
    Grand Central service
    • Bradford–Halifax–Brighouse–Wakefield Kirkgate–
      Doncaster–London Kings Cross

The Caldervale Line is a railway route in Northern England between the cities of Leeds and Manchester as well as the seaside resort of Blackpool. It is the slower of the two main rail routes between Leeds and Manchester, and the northernmost of the three main trans-Pennine routes.

The "Caldervale Line" name was given to the route by the West Yorkshire Metro transport authority, as it is primarily within the West Yorkshire area. It also extends into Greater Manchester and Lancashire.



Passenger train services are operated by Northern Rail and run on the following pattern:

  • (Selby) - Leeds - Bradford - Halifax - Huddersfield - (Wakefield Westgate)
  • Leeds - Bradford/Brighouse - Rochdale - Manchester Victoria
  • York - Leeds - Halifax - Burnley - Blackpool North

This line, along with the Huddersfield Line and York & Selby Lines is normally merged in national timetables to show a coast-to-coast service.

Services within West Yorkshire are sponsored by West Yorkshire Metro - their tickets (including Metrocards) can be used up to Hebden Bridge between Leeds & Blackpool, and Walsden between Leeds and Manchester.

Timetable changes from December 2008

Northern Rail has implemented changes to Caldervale services from December 2008. Three trains per hour now run between Leeds and Manchester Victoria. The first operates as a stopping service via Bradford Interchange. The second runs via Dewsbury and Brighouse before adopting a similar stopping pattern. The third is a limited-stop service operating via Bradford Interchange, which between Bradford and Manchester calls only at Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Rochdale. This limited-stop service brings the Bradford-Manchester journey time down to one hour.

In addition, some peak services between York and Blackpool North now call at Sowerby Bridge.[1]

The route

Railway lines in Leeds in 1913

Before the 1923 Grouping the first section of the line (Leeds - Bradford) was owned by the Great Northern Railway (GNR); and the entire remainder by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR), apart from the final section of the branch leading into Huddersfield, which was owned by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR).

For the section between Halifax and Burnley the line uses the valley of the River Calder, thus giving the services their name; it also follows the Rochdale Canal from Todmorden into Manchester. Since the route crosses the Pennines, there are many tunnels to negotiate en route.

The route description follows. For the initial section of the route, see Leeds and Bradford Lines.

Bradford - Halifax

Railway lines around Huddersfield in 1911
Railway lines around Manchester in 1910

Many stations on this route have been closed. Stations currently open are in bold. Original places served, and notes on the route:

    • Bowling was named Bowling Junction for its link with the GNR at this point
    • here is Bowling Tunnel 1648 yd (1483m)
    • Low Moor also a junction with GNR. Station may be reopening in the future.[citation needed]
    • here was a triangular junction for the L&YR line to Dewsbury
    • here are two tunnels: New Furnace Tunnel and Wyke Tunnel
    • Wyke and Norwood Green
    • here is Pickle Bridge junction for the Pickle Bridge Line to Huddersfield: now closed, there were two stations, Bailiff Bridge and Clifton Road
    • Lightcliffe
    • here is Lightcliffe Tunnel
    • Hipperholme
    • here is Beacon Hill Tunnel 1105 yd (995m)
    • Halifax
    • All the services on the Caldervale line serve Halifax.

On 24 October 1901 as the 6.10 pm down goods train from Low Moor to Leeds to was passing through Bowling Tunnel, the rear section broke loose. It came to a stop in the tunnel and was run into from behind by the 9.05 pm goods train from Low Moor to Laisterdyke. Wreckage partly blocking the up line was then hit by the 9 pm passenger train from Leeds to Manchester. No one was killed but there was extensive damage to rolling stock.[2]

Eastbound local train between Mirfield and Thornhill in 1953

Halifax - Huddersfield

This route was re-opened to passengers in 2000 when Brighouse station was re-opened, and a short length of line relaid to enable trains to reach Huddersfield.

    • Dryclough Junction (where the Huddersfield route leaves the main line)
    • Brighouse
    • Deighton (on the Huddersfield line; Caldervale Line trains do not call there)
    • Huddersfield

Halifax - Manchester Victoria

Many stations on this route have been closed (or are not served by the Caldervale Line trains): original stations served:

    • here was the triangular junction for the line via Mirfield to Dewsbury; the former Brighouse station was on this line
    • here is Bank House Tunnel
    • here was Copley station
    • the line now turns west into the Calder valley, joining the original 1840 main line at Milner Royd Junction.
    • Sowerby Bridge
    • at Sowerby Bridge heading west the line used to branch off to Ripponden. It was originally intended to continue to Littleborough but ended at Rishworth. Closed to passengers 8 July 1929.
    • here was Luddendenfoot railway station now closed
    • Mytholmroyd
    • Hebden Bridge
    • here is Weasel Hall Tunnel
    • here was Eastwood station
    • here are: Castle Hill Tunnel; Horsfall Tunnel; and Millwood Tunnel
    • Hall Royd Junction: here the trains on the Blackpool service turn northwestward, following the Calder Valley (see below)
    • Todmorden here the line takes a southward direction, in the same valley as the Rochdale Canal
    • Walsden: here the line crosses into the Rochdale District of Greater Manchester
    • after Winterbutlee Tunnel follows Summit Tunnel, at 2885 yd (2597 m) the longest on the L&YR lines
    • Littleborough
    • Smithy Bridge
    • Rochdale: junction for two lines: to Bacup (closed to passengers 16 June 1947) and to Oldham
    • Castleton: junction for a line to Bury
    • Middleton Junction junction for two lines: Middleton branch; and Oldham (both closed)
    • Mills Hill
    • Moston
    • Newton Heath
    • Miles Platting
    • Manchester Victoria

On 28 February 1902 a Wakefield to Rose Grove goods train broke into two due to a broken coupling, resulting in the rear half eventually crashing at high speed into the front half in Millwood Tunnel. No one was killed but wreckage filled the tunnel right up to the roof.[3]

Summit Tunnel was the scene of a major fire in 1984, caused when a freight train hauling petrol tankers derailed.

Blackpool route

Trains continue up the Calder valley to Burnley and Blackburn; it also runs parallel with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Burnley. The section from Todmorden to Burnley (often called the Copy Pit line) was opened by the Manchester and Leeds Railway (later L&YR) on 12 November 1849. The East Lancashire Railway (later L&YR) built the Burnley to Preston line, Burnley to Accrington 18 September 1848, Accrington to Blackburn 19 June 1848, and the Blackburn to Preston section on 1 June 1846. Many stations on this route have been closed (or are not served by the Caldervale Line trains): original stations served and other notes on the route:

    • Hall Royd Junction: see above; there are now no stations on the route before Burnley; stations once served, and notes on the route:
    • here was the junction with the original line from Todmorden (to Burnley), forming a triangle (closed 1972 but may be reopened in the near future).
    • Stansfield Hall station opened 1869, closed July 1944
    • here is Kitsonwood Tunnel (290 yards)
    • Nott Wood viaduct
    • Cornholme station closed to all traffic 26 September 1938
    • Portsmouth closed 7 July 1958
    • Copy Pit summit (749 ft)
    • Holme Tunnel (265 yards)
    • Holme: closed 28 July 1930
    • Towneley Tunnel (398 yards)
    • Towneley: serving the nearby Towneley Hall, closed 4 August 1952
    • Burnley Manchester Road station: (there are also Burnley Barracks and Burnley Central see below)
    • Gannow Junction where the line joins from Colne, Nelson, Brierfield, Burnley Central and Burnley Barracks
    • Rose Grove has an island platform with 2 disused bay platforms.
    • here was the Rose Grove Junction for the North Lancashire Loop, an alternative route to Blackburn via Padiham, Simonstone and Great Harwood (closed to passengers 2 December 1957)
    • Hapton
    • Huncoat
    • Accrington
    • here was the triangular junction for the line to Bury (closed 5 December 1966)
    • Church and Oswaldtwistle
    • Rishton
    • Rishton Tunnel
    • here was the other end of the line from Burnley at Great Harwood Junction
    • Blackburn Tunnel

Blackburn to Preston

This line is described in more detail in East Lancashire Line.

    • Blackburn: junction of the line to Bolton
    • Mill Hill
    • Cherry Tree
    • here was the L&YR/LNWR joint line (the Lancashire Union Joint Railway) to Chorley and the West Coast Route (opened 1 November 1869 and closed to passengers 4 January 1960)
    • Pleasington
    • Hoghton
    • Bamber Bridge
    • here was a junction for a direct route to Preston, the surviving route continues to Preston via Lostock Hall where there are further junctions, including one for the former through route to Liverpool.

Preston to Blackpool

This route is described in more detail in Blackpool Branch Lines.

Calder Valley main line near Mirfield in 1964


Improvements to the line are proposed as part of Network Rail's Northern Hub plans, which would allow for more frequent services on the line.[4] Some services via Bradford would also be extended to Chester, Liverpool and Manchester Airport.[4]

Low Moor station, between Bradford Interchange and Halifax, is due to be re-opened in early 2013.[5] A business case is being developed to re-open Elland station between Halifax and Brighouse.[5]

Two eastbound empties trains west of Mirfield in 1950

Todmorden Curve

The Todmorden Curve is a 440-yard (400 m) section of track at Hall Royd Junction near Todmorden which was lifted in 1972. Originally Hall Royd Junction was triangular, and the lifted curve allowed services from Burnley to reach Manchester via Todmorden; this is currently not possible directly. Re-instating the curve is now a priority for Lancashire County Council and was ranked as the most important project in their 2010 Rail Improvement Schemes draft report.[6] The government has confirmed that re-instating the link would cost around £7 million and any new rail services would require initial subsidy.[7] Burnley MP Kitty Ussher has written to the North West Development Agency to seek assurance that it could find the money.[7] Network Rail has agreed to pay for the final assessment of the plans.[8] This assessment concluded that it could be feasible to reinstate the curve although the original route could not be used as the original curve is deemed to be too sharp. An alternative route has been put forward. If funds can be obtained by early 2012 to carry forward the project, the curve could be back in use by the end of 2013.[9]

On 31 October 2011, the deputy Prime Minister announced this scheme would be given the go ahead, though no time scale has been given.[10]

See also

  • Transpennine Express - A service that connects the West to the East


  1. ^ "Northern's proposed timetable". 
  2. ^ "Accident Report: Bowling Tunnel". Board of Trade. 1901. 
  3. ^ "Accident Report: Millwood Tunnel". Board of Trade. 1902. 
  4. ^ a b "The Northern Hub". Network Rail. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Timetabling work complete ready for Bradford Low Moor opening in 2013". Rail (Peterborough) (641): p. 20. 7 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "Todmorden and Fleetwood top Lancashire's rail list". Rail (Peterborough) (641): pp. 16–17. 7 April 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "£7m. upfront price tag for Todmorden Curve rail link". Pendle Today (Nelson). 23 March 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "UK News In Brief". Railway Herald (241): p. 5. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Moseley, Tom (17 May 2011). "Todmorden Curve could be running by 2013". Lancashire Telegraph (Blackburn). Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Major boost as £9million rail link cash announced for Burnley". Lancashire Telegraph. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 

External links

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