Atherton railway station
serves the town of Atherton, Greater Manchester, and is the main station on the line it serves,
itself called the Atherton line, between Wigan and Manchester, and according to Strategic Rail Authority figures)
is the busiest station on the line (Salford Crescent is technically
not on the line).
station is located 19 km (11¾ miles) north west of Manchester
Victoria with regular Northern
Rail services to these towns as well as Salford, Swinton and Hindley, with onward trains to Kirkby and
is the nearest station to Leigh (Greater Manchester), one of the largest towns in
Britain without its own railway station.
The bus service 582
provides a frequent service to Leigh (every ten minutes or better)
from bus stops a few seconds' walk from the station. This easy
connection is not overly promoted by the local authorities and
transport executive, who instead are pushing for a guided busway to
the town of Leigh: 
present Atherton station was originally named Atherton
Central (although in fact it lies some distance from
the centre of the town) to differentiate it from Atherton Bag
Lane (on the line from Bolton Great Moor Street to Kenyon Junction) which was
closed in 1954. Atherton was also served by a station at Howe
Bridge on the line between Wigan North
Western and Manchester Exchange.
station dates from 1888, when the Lancashire and Yorkshire
Railway opened a direct line between Windsor Bridge
Junction and Crow Nest Junction (near Hindley) to shorten its main line between Manchester &
Liverpool and avoid the congested Bolton area. It was well used from
the beginning and was subsequently quadrupled shortly after the
turn of the century, later carrying through expresses from
Manchester to Blackpool, Windermere and Glasgow (again to avoid Bolton) in addition to Liverpool
The station became part of the London, Midland and
during the Grouping
of 1923, and then passed on to
Midland Region of British Railways
The cutbacks of the mid to late 1960s saw all the long distance
services diverted via other routes, rendering the additional tracks
obsolete and they were closed & lifted by the end of the decade
(the now-derelict outer platforms they served are still just
visible). During the early to middle 1970s, the station had a
sparse service outside weekday peak periods but in more recent
times, the frequency levels have improved considerably thanks to
financial support from Greater
, with a resultant increase in patronage.
introduced in the 1980s, the station was served by Regional Railways
with support from the
PTE, an arrangement that continued after the Privatisation of British
with co-operation from the current operating
Saturday daytimes, there are two departures each hour to Manchester
Victoria and two per hour towards Wigan Wallgate (hourly onwards to
Southport and Kirkby respectively) northbound.
Evenings there is an hourly service in each direction to Manchester
Victoria and Wigan.
Recent timetables provide a convenient connection (although a
platform change must be made which is not possible for wheelchair
users) at Hindley for services to Bolton.
There is no Sunday service.
Sub Brit page Atherton Bag Lane