Train Travels: Volume 18 – Northern Rail

In the North of England, the main train operator, aside from the main lines, are Northern Rail, who run all the local routes. We regularly use Northern Rail, and our most common route is the one to Newcastle:

Carlisle – Newcastle Central

Calling at:

Some services on this line extend from Newcastle to Middlesbrough, see the Newcastle – Nunthorpe section further down, as well as to Whitehaven at the Carlisle end, via Wigton, Maryport, Workington etc and some Scotrail Services from Glasgow to Carlisle via Dumfries extend down the Newcastle line and terminate in Newcastle itself.

Northern Rail use a number of different locomotives, and the two we have found ourselves on the most are:

1) Class 150/1 Sprinter


These diesel units run on a number of routes, mainly around Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. There are routes served in Yorkshire, including Selby and Leeds, whilst most services terminate in Manchester from places like Blackpool, Southport, Chester and Liverpool.

2)  Class 142 Pacer


These are some of the oldest trains in the Northern Rail Fleet, and run on all lines in the North from Manchester, Cumbria, Liverpool, Newcastle etc. They are being phased out and replaced by other units as they are quite unpopular. The interior is modelled on old buses but some of them have been updated with new interiors to make them much more comfortable.

Other trains in the fleet include electric modern ones around Manchester, Leeds and Doncaster, however these can only run on limited routes as most haven’t been electrified yet. Some of the most important routes in Lancashire from Liverpool and Manchester are in the process of electrification at the moment and new electric units will come into service soon.

Northern Rail operate the most stations of any franchise in the UK, with an incredible 462, and their services call at 529 stations overall. You can see on the above Network Map the extent of the Network which covers 16 counties across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Other Main Lines We Have Used:

  • Blackpool North – York
  • Blackpool North – Manchester Victoria
  • Southport – Stalybridge
    • (Calling at: Southport, Meols Cop, Bescar Lane, New Lane, Burscough Bridge, Hoscar, Parbold, Appley Bridge, Gathurst, Wigan Wallgate, Ince, Hindley, Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden, Swinton, Salford Crescent, Salford Central, Manchester Victoria, Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge)
  • Sheffield – Lincoln Central
    • (Calling at: Sheffield, Darnall, Woodhouse, Kiveton Bridge, Kiveton Park, Shireoaks, Worksop, Retford, Gainsborough Lea Road, Saxilby and Lincoln Central)
  • Derby – Stoke On Trent
  • Newcastle – Nunthorpe
    • (Calling at: Newcastle Central, Heworth, Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carwe, Billingham, Stockton, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, James Cook Hospital, Marton, Gypsy Lane and Nunthorpe)
  • Carlisle – Leeds via Settle
    • (Calling at Carlisle, Armarthwaite, Lazonby & Kirkoswald, Langwathby, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Garsdale, Dent, Ribblehead, Horton in Ribblesdale, Settle, Hellifield, Skipton, Keighley, Bingley, Shipley and Leeds)

There are many varied and interesting places you can reach on the Northern Rail Network, with the route to Leeds via Settle from Carlisle being famous for it’s natural beauty, as you pass through the Cumbria Countryside and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Other places we have visited that are served by Northern Rail include Barrow-in-Furness, Darwen, Clitheroe, Wakefield and Lancaster.

Below is a selection of pictures from places we have visited with Northern Rail, including some major cities, and some lesser known towns and villages:

For more information visit the Northern Rail website here.


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