WHILE one man is making history to become the first official UK Astronaut today — a Horwich resident has already broken records with his own intrepid expedition.
Tim Peake may be the focus of the world’s attention as he jets off to the International Space Station from a base in Baikonur in Kazakhstan — but a day earlier and 3,609 miles away in Horwich, history had already been made.
That is because former town councillor and train-enthusiast Andrew Morley became the first passenger to pass through the newly built Farnworth Tunnel, after its 8-month redevelopment.
Mr Morley, who works for a banking firm in Manchester, travels in from Horwich to work each morning.
However, in the knowledge that from Monday, the first trains would be passing through the newly built tunnel, Mr Morley got up extra early so he could get on the very first service of the new timetable, which left Horwich Parkway station at 5.30am.
Once on-board, he made his way to the very front of the train, so he could ensure he was officially the first passenger to travel through the tunnel at Farnworth.
He said: “I’m proud to say that I achieved a little bit of Rail Engineering history by being the very first passenger to go through the new Farnworth Tunnel.
“I got to Horwich Parkway Station several hours before I normally get there, in order to catch the 5:30am train from Horwich which was the first public train to go through the tunnel in either direction.
“I also made sure that I sat in one of the front most passenger seats in the train and I was the only person in any of these 4 seats.”
Mr Morley attempted to revel in his achievement with his fellow passengers — but they did not seem to share his enthusiasm.
He said: “I mentioned to the other three people near to me after we came out of the Kearsley end of the tunnel that we were the first four passengers to go through the new tunnel but two of them were asleep and the other one was oblivious to this historic event.”
Once off the train, the enthusiastic commuter managed to grab a chat with the driver who had taken him on this historic journey.
He explained: “I spoke to the driver, who was just coming off duty, but even he hadn’t realised the significance of this journey.
“When I told him that I’d got up especially early to do this, he said that I was far too keen.”