Just a stone’s throw away from Bolton, you can find a train that takes you back in time.

Step on to the East Lancashire Railway and you can take a trip on heritage diesel and steam engines between Rawtenstall, Bury, and Heywood.

Getting on to the train – painted in customary British Rail livery – you’ll be greeted by classic passenger compartments, perfect for travelling in privacy with the family.

Grab a pint from the station’s pub – named The Trackside – while you wait and bring it on board if you fancy a treat, and sit back to ‘let the train take the strain’ – with no British Rail sandwiches in sight.

Get off in Ramsbottom where you can visit pubs such as Casked, which offers quality pints, as recognised in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2024, alongside some tasty food.

On the train, ticket inspector Michael Moore, who lives in Bolton, told The Bolton News why people should get on board.

The Bolton News: Ticket inspector Michael MooreTicket inspector Michael Moore (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

He said: “The East Lancashire Railway is a unique type of entertainment, it’s a unique way of transporting yourself across the Irwell valley for 12 miles, from Heywood through Bury up to Rawtenstall.

“There are lots of nice walks alongside the railway, alongside the river – and nice parks and shops to visit in Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.”

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A volunteer, Michael retired from his job as a maths teacher in 2007 following a heart attack.

He now manages multiple parts of the operation. Michael said: “I wanted something to do. When I was a kid, we did trainspotting – when I was in my young teens we all went trainspotting, or played cricket or football in the street, which you can’t do now.

“In 2007, I went for a walk round a reservoir near Bolton and in a cafe I found an advert saying East Lancashire Railway wanted volunteers.

“Now, I’m a senior member of volunteer staff and I’m in charge of a staff of 39 people.”

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was one of the 200,000 people who take the train annually when he got on board earlier this month – however, Michael was not entirely impressed.

He added: “Rishi Sunak came to visit us – but don’t hold that against us, because we didn’t know he was coming.”

However, the heritage line could face new pressures as calls to provide a regular rail link between Rawtenstall and Manchester grow – potentially allowing for a 44-minute journey time between the town and the city centre – something Michael believes would ‘cost far too much’ due to upgrades needed.

However, services linking Bury with Rochdale via Heywood on the line could begin to operate by the end of 2029.

Tickets for the East Lancashire Railway can be bought on its website, or in its booking office.

The service operates mostly on weekends, with mid-week services available in some weeks.

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.