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Branch Line Society announces the “Tower Tractors” rail tour

In early-September the Branch Line Society is running the “Tower Tractors” two-day loco-hauled rail tour of Northwest England to raise funds for Martin House Hospice, which is a charity that provides hospice care for children and young people across the West, North, and East Yorkshire.

The tour is being run on Saturday, 3rd and Sunday, 4th September, with the Saturday portion titled “The Garston Growler” and the Sunday “The Ribble Ranger”, and will visit a number of branches that rarely see a loco-hauled passenger train .

Saturday highlights include Preston Up & Down Goods, Tuebrook Sidings, Garston Chord, Garston Through Sidings, Ditton Reception No 3, Stafford Royal Mail Terminal, Arpley Shunting Neck and ‘The Hole’ at Warrington.

Sunday highlights include Blackpool South loco-hauled, Blackburn King Street loop, Colne branch loco-hauled, Blackburn Up & Down Goods, Clitheroe to Hellifield (part of ‘DalesRail’), Hellifield Down Goods Loop, the Network Rail connection to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and Neville Hill TMD.

A Buffet Car will serve a wide range of hot and cold drinks, snacks, and light refreshments, and a number of hand-pulled real ales and ciders will be available. During the tour a charity raffle will be held, with all proceeds being donated to Martin House Hospice.

On Saturday there will be an afternoon leg stretch break / photo stop at Liverpool Lime Street, and at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on Sunday.

The charter is being operated by West Coast Railways, and will feature WCR Class 37s operating in top ‘n tail throughout. The Sunday part of the tour includes a return trip from Keighley to Oxenhope on the Keighley ad Worth Valley Railway, which is expected to feature Class 37 37075. The cost of the trip is included in the fare shown below. There is also the possibility of bonus traction at Neville Hill, subject to agreement and availability.

Planned routing and timings::

Saturday, 3rd September – “The Garston Growler”

  • Lancaster P5 (PU 07.10) – Preston P6 (PU 07.35) – Warrington Bank Quay P2 (PU 08.10) – Crewe P5 (PU 08.45 / RM) – Wilmslow P1 – Manchester Airport P4 (RM) – Manchester Piccadilly P3 (RM) – Hadfield (RM) – Manchester Piccadilly P13 – Ordsall Chord – Manchester Victoria P6 (RM) – Salford Crescent – Bolton P5 – Euxton Jn – Preston Up & Dn Goods (RM) – Springs Branch Jn – St Helens Central – Tuebrook Sidings (RM) – Bootle Branch Junction (RM) – Liverpool Lime Street (Break / RM) – Liverpool South Parkway – Garston Church Road (RM) – Garston Through Sidings – Ditton Reception No 3 – Acton Bridge – Crewe – Basford Hall Up Independent – Stafford Royal Mail Terminal (RM) – Crewe Dn Fast – Arpley Shunting Neck – Warrington ‘The Hole’ – Preston P3 (SD 20.45 / RM) – Rufford – Ormskirk (RM) – Preston P1 (SD 22.00) – Blackpool North P2 (SD 22.26 / RM) – Preston P1 (SD 23.05)

Sunday, 4th September – “The Ribble Ranger”

  • Blackpool North P2 (PU 07.27) – Preston P1 (PU 07.52 / RM) – Blackpool South P1 (PU 08.25 /RM) – Preston P2 (PU 09.15) – Blackburn King Street Loop – Blackburn – Colne (RM) – Blackburn Up and Dn Goods (RM) – Daisyfield Jn – Clitheroe – Hellifield DGL (RM) – Keighley P1 (RM) – Keighley Stn Jn (RM) – Keighley P3 (off train break / RM) – Keighley Stn Jn (RM) – Shipley – Bradford Forster Square (RM) – Leeds – Neville Hill TMD (RM) – Leeds P12 (SD 18.00) – Bradford Interchange P2 (SD 18.25 / RM) – Halifax – Hebden Bridge – Blackburn P4 (SD 19.33) – Preston P4 (SD 20.03) – Lancaster P3 (SD 20.33)

Bookings will initially be open for both days only, but if capacity permits, bookings may be available later for single days.


  • First Class, non-dining, at a guaranteed table for two £354.00;
  • First Class, non-dining £304.00;
  • Standard Class £199.00.

Accompanied under 18s benefit from a £99.50 reduction in all fares.

To book and for more information visit their website:

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