Skelmersdale railway station

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Skelmersdale railway station.jpg
AreaWest Lancashire
Coordinates53°33′02″N 2°48′38″W / 53.5506°N 2.8105°W / 53.5506; -2.8105Coordinates: 53°33′02″N 2°48′38″W / 53.5506°N 2.8105°W / 53.5506; -2.8105
Grid referenceSD464063
LineSkelmersdale branch
Original companyEast Lancashire Railway
Pre-groupingLancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Post-groupingLondon, Midland and Scottish Railway
1 March 1858Opened as Blaguegate
1 August 1874Renamed Skelmersdale
5 November 1956Closed (passenger services)
4 November 1963Closed (all services)
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain

Skelmersdale railway station was a station located on the Skelmersdale branch at Skelmersdale, England. The station was originally named Blague Gate, having its name changed to Skelmersdale on 8 August 1874 and carried passengers from 1858 to 1956.[2]


A 1908 Railway Clearing House Junction Diagram showing (lower right) railways in the vicinity of Skelmersdale

The station was one of several built by the East Lancashire Railway on their branch line from Ormskirk to Rainford Junction. It opened on 1 March 1858, but after a year became part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway system when the ELR was taken over by that company. The station consisted of two platforms with the main building on the northbound side. A wooden signal box was provided to control the adjacent level crossing, passing loop and nearby goods yard. The line towards Ormskirk was subsequently doubled in 1875, the year after the station was renamed.

Throughout its life the route operated as a self-contained branch, though connections were available for Preston, Liverpool & Blackpool at Ormskirk and for St Helens Central, Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria at Rainford. The service was also generous, with the L&Y running a steam railmotor service of 19 trains per day in each direction from 1906. A similar pattern continued after the route became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in January 1923, but increasing road competition after World War II and the subsequent nationalisation of the railways in 1948 saw traffic levels decline.

The station was closed to passenger traffic by the British Transport Commission on 5 November 1956,[3] with the line south to Rainford closing completely on 16 November 1961 and the rest on 4 November 1963, when goods traffic at the station ceased.[4] The track was lifted in 1968 and station was demolished soon afterwards; the B5312 road (known as Railway Road) now passes through the site.

Ironically this was done just as the town was undergoing a significant increase in population levels and associated housing development, having been designated as one of the second wave of new towns in 1961 (it was chosen, along with Runcorn as an overspill town for Liverpool).

Reopening proposals[edit]

Skelmersdale has been described as the largest town in North-West England that doesn't have a railway station,[5] although Leigh in Greater Manchester, which also has no station is larger.[6] There have been many discussions about reopening a railway station in Skelmersdale. This would require a three-mile rail restoration.[7] In January 2009, the Liverpool Echo newspaper reported that recommendations have been put to councillors to endorse the £60m plan to build a new railway station in Skelmersdale, reconnecting the town with Liverpool.[8]

In June 2009, the Association of Train Operating Companies, in its Expanding Access to the Rail Network report, called for funding for the reopening of this station as part of a £500m scheme to open 33 stations on 14 lines closed in the Beeching Axe, including seven new parkway stations.[9] The report proposes extending the line from Ormskirk by laying 3 miles of new single track along the previous route to the town, at a cost estimated to be in the region of £31million. The route is largely intact, though a deviation north of Westhead would be required. The proposed station would be on the north west corner of town near the Skelmersdale Ring Road, right next to where the old station once was.[10] A feasibility study on the project jointly funded by Merseytravel, Merseyrail, Lancashire County Council & West Lancs Borough Council was due to begin in the autumn of 2013.[11]

Lancashire County Council approved the initiation of a more detailed evaluation on 1 June 2015.[12] This option selection process will take the project to completing Network Rail's GRIP stage 3 level of development in January 2017.[12][13] The evaluation is to be developed in partnership with Network Rail and Merseytravel.[13] Network Rail has suggested a construction date commencing in April 2021, with services beginning from December 2023,[13] once the single option development and detailed design stages in the GRIP process have been achieved. The likely route for the new link is southwards to join the Kirkby branch line between Upholland and Rainford rather than the original plans to go north via Ormskirk, so as to enable trains to travel to Wigan & Manchester as well as to Liverpool.[12]

In February 2017 Lancashire County Council confirmed that the preferred site for Skelmersdale railway station was the former site of Glenburn Sports College/Westbank Campus.[14] County Council Transport portfolio holder John Fillis said that the site "is big enough to provide a high quality station with scope to expand to meet future demand.".[15] By September, Merseytravel announced that they would be committing £765,000 to the study into the reopening, estimating that the station could be open within a decade with a lot of additional funding. Merseytravel's plan would also see a new station built at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby. It has been proposed a new station at Skelmersdale would act as the terminus for Merseyrail's Northern Line, with connections available to Wigan and Manchester. Initial estimates suggest that the scheme could cost around £300 million to develop.[16] On page 36 of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Long Term Rail Strategy document of October 2017, it states that Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to develop a plan to extend the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale, with work completed in 2019. They are considering 3rd rail electrification and other alternatives with a new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the Northwood area of Kirkby. The document on page 37 states two trials of electric 3rd rail/battery trains will be undertaken in 2020, this is one of the "alternatives". [17]

Lancashire County Coucil approved a plan in May 2019 to commission an outline business case into reopening the station which will be presented to the government.[18]


  1. ^ James 2004, p. 32.
  2. ^ Ackerley, Dave. "The coming of the railway". Skelmersdale Heritage Society. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  3. ^ Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
  4. ^ "Disused Stations – Skelmersdale". Disused Stations. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  5. ^ "A station back in Skelmersdale". railfuture. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  6. ^ Census 2011: Population and Household Estimates for Wards (PDF), Wigan Council, retrieved 19 May 2016
  7. ^ "House of Commons – Transport – Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence". Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
  8. ^ "£40m rail link plans are backed". Liverpool Echo. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  9. ^ "BBC NEWS – England – Operators call for new rail lines". BBC News. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  10. ^ "Connecting Communities – Expanding Access to the Rail Network" (PDF). London: Association of Train Operating Companies. June 2009. p. 20. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Skelmersdale railway feasibility study". Ormskirk & Skelmersdale Advertiser. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  12. ^ a b c "Skelmersdale railway plans on the right track". Southport Visiter. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "Skelmersdale link moves towards GRIP3". RAIL. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  14. ^ Preferred Site Identified for Skelmersdale Railway Station Lancashire County Council
  15. ^ Preferred site identified for Skelmersdale railway station Southport Visiter
  16. ^ Houghton, Alistair (18 September 2017). "Skelmersdale rail link moves step closer as £5m funding revealed". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Faulkner, Paul (17 May 2019). "Plans for Skelmersdale train station move one step closer". Lancs Live. Retrieved 31 August 2019.


  • James, David (2004), Lancashire's Lost Railways, Stenlake Publishing, ISBN 1 84033 288 3

External links[edit]

Preceding station   Disused railways   Following station
Westhead Halt
Line and station closed
  Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Skelmersdale branch
  White Moss Level Crossing Halt
Line and station closed