Chorley flying arches return

Photo: Four by Three.

Chorley’s historic flying arches have been restored to their rightful place above the Bolton to Euxton Junction line after seven years in storage. Writes Graeme Bickerdike

The 16 masonry structures, now Grade II listed, were temporarily replaced with steel props in 2008 as part of a project to resolve a track stabilisation issue which had resulted in the imposition of a 20 mph Temporary Speed Restriction. Their return comes during a six-week blockade of the line, the main work being to lower the track through the adjacent 124-yard Chorley Tunnel for the North West Electrification Programme.

The arches are the only surviving example of their type on the network and were built for the Bolton & Preston Railway in 1843, their purpose being to resist any lateral movement of a cutting’s retaining walls in an area of poor ground conditions. However they no longer serve that function following reinstatement. Instead permanent steel arches have been installed which provide the option of being used to mount the new overhead line equipment; the original masonry sits on top of these, only fulfilling an aesthetic role.

The blockade – which is also being used to replace three overbridges and an aqueduct – runs until Sunday, August 31. In the meantime, a replacement bus service is operating between Chorley and Preston on weekdays, and between Bolton and Preston over weekends.


  1. North West Electrification is progressing very well with Bolton, Chorley, Blackburn & Burnley seeing overhead wires erected and EMU trains to operate on the newly electrified section.

    But what about AC Overhead electrifications including electrifying the Rural lines in East Anglia (Norwich-Great Yarmouth, Norwich-Cromer & Sheringham, Ipswich-Felixstowe, Ipswich-Lowestoft, Lowestoft-Great Yarmouth, Norwich-Peterborough via Ely, Ipswich-Cambridge via Newmarket, Ipswich-Peterborough via Ely and Marks Tey-Sudbury) and the Gospel Oak-Barking line also to be electrified and the Greenford branch line when Crossrail operates in 2018/19.

    Other projects includes DC 3rd Rail electrification with electrifying the Swanage branch line, Eastleigh to Romsey, Southampton to Salisbury, Basingstoke to Salisbury and Bath, Reading to Basingstoke and other DC 3rd rail electrification across Southern England.


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