Leeds to Morecambe Line

Leeds to Morecambe Line

The Leeds to Morecambe Line is a railway line running between Leeds, Skipton, Lancaster and Morecambe in northern England. The service is operated by Northern Rail. The route covered by the service was part of the Midland Railway (Midland) system. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead between Leeds and Skipton. This section is known as the Airedale Line.

The route & its history

Airedale Line (Leeds - Skipton)

The first section, between Leeds and stnlnk|Shipley was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846, and extended to Skipton by the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway.

kipton - Settle

The line from here, known as the "Little" North Western Railway, opened as far as Clapham on 30 July 1849 [Binns, D (1982) "The 'Little' North Western Railway", Wyvern Publishing, Skipton. ISBN 0 907941 01 X, p.9] and through to stnlnk|Lancaster on 1 June 1850. Here were junctions for the following lines:
* the Yorkshire Dales Railway, opened 30 July 1902, closed 22 September 1930, and which linked to the Skipton to Ilkley Line
* the continuation of Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway to stnlnk|Colne, linking to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) to stnlnk|Preston The main line continues:
* Gargrave
* Bell Busk, for Malham (closed 1959)
** here is the junction for the L&YR line to stnlnk|Blackburn
* Hellifield: here was a locomotive shed
* stnlnk|Long Preston
** "Settle Junction" - here the Settle-Carlisle Line, opened for freight 1875, passengers 1 May 1876, continues.

ettle Junction - Lancaster

The original main line to Lancaster had the following stations:
* Giggleswick
* Clapham - here was the junction for Ingleton and an end-on junction via Sedbergh to Low Gill on the London and North Western Railway (LNW) West Coast Main Line (WCML). The line was frequently used as an alternative through route when the Settle-Carlisle main line was blocked. It was opened from Ingleton by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway in 1861: the route was closed to passenger traffic on 1 February 1954 and completely in 1966.
* Bentham
* Wennington - here the route divided, with the Furness and Midland Joint Railway connecting with the original NWR/Midland line. The latter continued to:
** Hornby (closed 1957)
** Caton (closed 1961)
** Halton (closed 1966)
** stnlnk|Lancaster Green Ayre
** At Morecambe, the line divides: a triangular junction for the two lines:
*** Morecambe Harbour, opened 12 June 1848 (later replaced by "Morecambe Northumberland St") - and the branch to
*** Heysham Harbour, including a station for Middleton Road Heysham (there are no through trains to Heysham from Leeds).
** the line was electrified, as Britain's first overhead high tension AC electrification, in 1908.

Trains now continue via Carnforth, with stations at:
* Melling (closed 1952)
* Arkholme (closed 1960)
* Borwick (closed 1960)
*Carnforth - here the line joins the Furness Line and then the WCML.
*Bare Lane

The Future

A recent report by Modern Railways claimed that a solid hourly service would operate on the line as far as Long Preston, but would serve Carlisle and Lancaster alternately. It may also become a freight artery to improve capacity on the West Coast Main Line. Network Rail's own latest plans involve new signalling and other improvements for the sections of the line beyond Skipton. Carlisle services will be increased to a basic two hour pattern with extra services to 'fill in the gaps' at peak times during the day to give a 1 train/h frequency.cite news|url=http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/rus%20documents/route%20utilisation%20strategies/lancashire%20and%20cumbria/lancashire%20and%20cumbria%20rus.pdf|title=Lancashire and Cumbria RUS] Lancaster services will also be made more frequent, however it has been suggested they will be terminated at Skipton in future, rather than continuing through to Leeds as at present. This suggestion drew criticism from various bodies during the RUS consultation period however and is unlikely to be proceeded with.

ee also

*Other services partly sharing this route's tracks:
**Airedale Line "(Leeds–Skipton)"
**Settle-Carlisle Line "(Leeds–Settle)"
**West Coast Main Line "(Carnforth–Lancaster)"
**Morecambe Branch Line "(Lancaster–Morecambe)"
*Original railway companies:
**Leeds and Bradford Railway "(Leeds–Shipley)"
**Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway "(Shipley–Skipton)"
**"Little" North Western Railway "(Skipton–Wennington — and dismantled Lunesdale line)"
**Furness and Midland Joint Railway "(Wennington–Carnforth)"
**Lancaster and Carlisle Railway "(Carnforth–Morecambe)"


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