National Rail
LocationFarnworth, Bolton
Coordinates53°33′01″N 2°23′18″W / 53.5503°N 2.3882°W / 53.5503; -2.3882Coordinates: 53°33′01″N 2°23′18″W / 53.5503°N 2.3882°W / 53.5503; -2.3882
Grid referenceSD743060
Managed byNorthern Trains
Transit authorityGreater Manchester
Other information
Station codeFNW
ClassificationDfT category E
Original companyManchester, Bolton and Bury Railway
Pre-groupingLancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Post-groupingLondon, Midland and Scottish Railway
Key dates
29 May 1838Station opened as Tunnel
1841Station closed
September 1845Reopened as Halshaw Moor
May 1852Renamed Halshaw Moor and Farnworth
January 1870Renamed Farnworth and Halshaw Moor
6 May 1974Renamed Farnworth
2016/17Increase 38,408
2017/18Decrease 36,922
2018/19Increase 46,380
2019/20Increase 59,228
2020/21Decrease 17,610
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Farnworth railway station serves the Greater Manchester town of Farnworth, in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, England. The station has had several names, the present name being adopted on 6 May 1974.[1]

It lies on the Manchester-Preston Line 8+12 miles (13.7 km) north of Manchester Victoria, though only local services run by Northern Trains call here.

The station received a minor upgrade in 2009, with the addition of automated electronic information display systems and automated announcements audio system similar to the system at Lostock station. A more substantial rebuild, involving platform realignment, was undertaken in 2015-2016 as part of works to electrify the Manchester-Preston line.[2] The station has a ticket office, which is manned from 06:30 to 13:00 on weekdays only (closed Saturdays and Sundays). Outside of these times, tickets must be purchased on the train or prior to travel. Step-free access to both platforms is via ramps from the station entrance.[3]


The station was first opened by the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Railway on 29 May 1838, and was originally named Tunnel. This station closed in 1841, but was reopened in September 1845, when it took the name of Halshaw Moor. In May 1852 it was renamed Halshaw Moor and Farnworth; in January 1870 Farnworth and Halshaw Moor; and finally on 6 May 1974 it became Farnworth.[4]

Farnworth Tunnel

The north-west ends of Farnworth tunnel, prior to the 2015 reconstruction. Original tunnel (re-bored in 2015) on left; additional smaller bore of 1880 on right.
The north-west ends of Farnworth tunnel, prior to the 2015 reconstruction. Original tunnel (re-bored in 2015) on left; additional smaller bore of 1880 on right.

To the south-east of the station is Farnworth Tunnel, which had two single-track bores, although when built it had one double-track bore. Originally there was intended to be a cutting, but a tunnel was substituted. This was dug from both ends and also from a shaft at the centre; the main difficulty in construction being the nature of the ground, which consisted of wet sand and clay. It is 295 yards (270 m) long,[5] although Network Rail has erected tunnel entrance nameboards that incorrectly read 294 yds.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) route north from Blackburn to Hellifield was completed on 1 June 1880, and the Midland Railway (MR) proposed to use this route for a through service between Manchester Victoria and Scotland. The MR intended to use Pullman cars, which were larger than the L&YR coaches, and it was found that some of the tunnels on the route were too small and would need to be enlarged. Among these was Farnworth tunnel, which was also in need of extensive repairs; so instead of enlarging it, it was decided to build a second tunnel alongside. The present down (northbound) single-line tunnel was commenced on 26 April 1880 and brought into use on 5 December that year, although Parliamentary approval for its construction had not been obtained: it was applied for in February 1881 and granted retrospectively (as part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Act 1881, 44 & 45 Vic chapter 135) on 18 July that year. Once it was in use, the two tracks through the original tunnel were replaced by a single track along the centre; the tunnel lining was repaired and thickened, and this tunnel then formed the up (southbound) single-line tunnel.[6]

As part of the forthcoming electrification scheme, the original tunnel has been enlarged to allow sufficient clearance for the overhead wires and for both lines to be routed through it once again.[7] During this period, the 1880 bore was initially retained to permit a limited diesel service over the route to continue during the upgrade work, and after was then abandoned as clearances within are too restricted to allow safe operation with overhead wires. This has also required realignment of the lines approaching it and consequent alterations to the platforms that they serve.[8] Work began in May 2015, when the 1838 bore was closed, filled in with cement and re-bored to a larger diameter using the largest tunnel boring machine ever built in Britain.[9] During tunnelling, the workers ran into loose/soft sand, which caused the project to be delayed from October to December and also led to the temporary closure of some lanes on the A666 road above for safety reasons.[10] The TBM finally bored through on 25 October 2015, 21 days after the scheduled completion date. The newly widened tunnel reopened on 14 December 2015, after a scheduled engineering possession on the preceding weekend to connect and test the track & signalling equipment.[11] The first train through was the 05:30 on 15 December from Horwich Parkway station, and the first passenger to use it was former councillor Andrew Morley.[12] At the end of January 2016, the tunnel was once again closed to enable replacement of the temporary tracks and their replacement[13] with tracks suitable for 100 mph running. Overhead wiring was later installed through the tunnel and electric trains were introduced along the route from Monday 11 February 2019, initially utilising Class 319 electric multiple units.[14]


There is an hourly service northbound to Southport via Bolton and Wigan Wallgate and southwards and eastwards to Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge throughout the day Mondays to Fridays.[15] A small number of early morning services run to/from Wigan North Western.

Services were suspended for several months due to the tunnel and station upgrade works mentioned above - they have now resumed, as the project has been completed. Originally planned to end in October 2015, this was subsequently extended to the December 2015 timetable change. The extension to the works was caused by excessive wet sand deposits being discovered in the overlaying land by Network Rail engineers, severely hampering progress of the boring machine.[16] The station reopened (along with the tunnel) on 14 December 2015.

Prior to the May 2018 timetable change, no evening weekday service operated aside from a solitary late evening train to Bolton and Wigan. As of July 2018, Saturday trains were replaced by buses as a result of ongoing engineering line blockages to progress the delayed electrification scheme mentioned previously (which was more than two years behind schedule) - this was finally completed in November 2018 and Saturday trains began running again the following month.

There is no Sunday service.


  1. ^ Slater, J.N., ed. (July 1974). "Notes and News: Stations renamed by LMR". Railway Magazine. London: IPC Transport Press Ltd. 120 (879): 363. ISSN 0033-8923.
  2. ^ "Rail service resumes through Farnworth Tunnel". Rail Technology Magazine. 14 December 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ Farnworth station facilities National Rail Enquiries; Retrieved 9 December 2016
  4. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. pp. 235, 112, 94. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.
  5. ^ Marshall, John (1969). The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, volume 1. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 29. ISBN 0-7153-4352-1.
  6. ^ Marshall 1969, pp. 190, 192
  7. ^ "Powering Ahead" Railway Strategies article 25-03-2014; Retrieved 2014-09-06
  8. ^ Pictured: Massive machine that will bore tunnel under A666 as railway is electrified Robertson, N; Bolton News article; Retrieved 12 March 2015
  9. ^ Pigott, Nick, ed. (March 2015). "Tunnel to be re-bored". Headline news. The Railway Magazine. Vol. 161 no. 1368. Horncastle: Mortons Media Group. p. 8. ISSN 0033-8923.
  10. ^ Network Rail Media Centre - "A666 lane closures while train tunnel is enlarged underneath"Network Rail press release - 29 September 2015; Retrieved 2 December 2015
  11. ^ Northern Rail News - Update on Farnworth Tunnel - 26 November 2015 Archived 30 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine Northern Rail news article; Retrieved 2 December 2015
  12. ^ "Horwich man thrilled to become first passenger to travel through newly built Farnworth Tunnel". The Bolton News. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  13. ^ Graeme, Bickerdike (3 March 2016). "Farnworth Tunnel - Once in a lifetime | Rail Engineer". Rail Engineer. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  14. ^ McDonnell, Seamus (14 February 2019). "First electric trains are a 'new dawn' for Bolton commuters | The Bolton News". The Bolton News. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  15. ^ Table 82 National Rail timetable, December 2019
  16. ^ Manchester to Preston electrification - Project Update September 2015Network Rail; Retrieved 8 September 2015

Further reading

Preceding station
National Rail
Following station
Moses Gate   Northern Trains
Manchester-Preston Line