Steam trains back at Timperley station? £30m plan unveiled to revive disused rail line

By David Prior at

Steam engines could be arriving and departing from Timperley station again if an ambitious £30m plan comes to fruition.

Businessman Neil McArthur is proposing to revive a six-mile disused rail track between Salford and Timperley, creating a heritage railway that would bring “huge” economic, social and environmental benefits, he claims.

A footpath and cycleway would run alongside the line, the Cadishead Viaduct would be reinstated and stations rebuilt at West Timperley, Cadishead and Partington.

McArthur’s plan is based on a report he has submitted to Salford and Trafford councils, Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail and Sustrans, the body responsible for the nation’s cycle network.

Businessman Neil McArthur (right) with Michael Portillo, who is backing the £30m plan

It calls for political support to re-connect communities along the line, which stopping carrying passengers in 1964. The freight service ended in 1984 with the closure of the Cadishead Viaduct over the Manchester Ship Canal.

McArthur, who has proposed the idea through his charity, the Hamilton Davies Trust, said the nearby East Lancashire Railway – which runs from Bury to Rawtenstall – showed the potential of the project.

“The East Lancs heritage railway shows the demand with 200,000 passengers a year, so there is a local example to learn from,” he said.

“We’re asking the political representatives and transport bodies to join with us in exploring the art of the possible.”

Cheshire Lines Railway Heritage Trust document. Credit: Neil McArthur

The plans have been backed by former government minister Michael Portillo, the presenter of BBC TV’s Great Railways Journeys series.

He said: “The building of Britain’s railways during the nineteenth century required vision, determination and entrepreneurial flair. Today, the re-opening of closed tracks requires the same qualities.

“I’m impressed by the zeal shown by the Hamilton Davies Trust. Heritage lines run all over Britain thanks to that kind of enthusiasm, and they bring pleasure to many thousands, and greatly boost the economic health of the neighbouring communities.”

A CGI showing how a cycleway and footpath would run parallel to the heritage steam line