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Rail route closed in 1964 may become heritage line and cycleway

Computer image showing how the cycleway and footpath would run parallel to heritage steam and diesel trains Photo: Hamilton Davies Trust

Ambitious plans are being unveiled to create a heritage railway along the disused rail route between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

There will be a footpath and cycleway running parallel to historic steam and diesel trains.

The £25 million - £30 million project would involve relaying the track and rebuilding stations and reinstating the Cadishead Viaduct along the six mile route.

Cadishead Viaduct as it is now Credit: Hamilton Davies Trust

The proposal is headed by businessman and philanthropist Neil McArthur from the Hamilton Davies Trust.

Former government minister Michael Portillo and the presenter of TV’s Great Railways Journeys series will be along to give his support for the project.

Credit: Press Association

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.”

– Michael Portillo

Neil McArthur’s new 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.

It calls for political support from the statutory bodies to re-connect communities along the line which lost the passenger service in 1964.

The freight service ended in 1984 with the closure of the Cadishead viaduct over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Neil McArthur at the recently restored Irlam Station on the main line between Manchester and Liverpool. The £2m project was made possible through the charity the Hamilton Davies Trust Credit: Hamilton Davies Trust

Neil McArthur believes the re-opening of the line would be both a tourist attraction similar to the popular 20km (12.5 miles) Bury-based East Lancashire Railway, and also bring together on cycle, on foot and by train, the communities of Partington and Carrington in Trafford, and Irlam and Cadishead in Salford, which are relatively close but badly served by transport routes.

The report calls for:

The re-opening of 9.5km (6 miles) of the former Cheshire Lines railway from Irlam to Timperley, near Altrincham. – (key part of this is the re-opening of the 1.5km branch line from Irlam Station to Glazebrook East Junction.

The re-building of stations at Cadishead, Partington, and West Timperley.

The re-opening of the Cadishead Viaduct along the route, which is closed off by shipping containers and known locally as an ugly ‘Berlin Wall’ which cuts off the communities of Irlam and Partington.

Cheshire Lines Railway Heritage Trust document, May 2015 Credit: Neil McArthur