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A busy junction on local route between Wigan and Manchester.
Crow Nest Junction is less than a mile east of Hindley station, where the route to Lostock Junction and Bolton diverges from the line to Manchester via Atherton.
A farm track, which is also a public footpath, crosses the line on a long overbridge with low parapets, giving good views of the junction directly beneath, the signalbox and the line towards Hindley station.
Railway type and traffic
Almost exclusively local passenger traffic operated by the Northern Rail franchise between Southport, Kirkby, Wigan Wallgate and Bolton, Manchester (Vic and Piccadilly) and points beyond. The current timetable is covered by DMU classes 142, 150 and 156.
In the past, and maybe in future timetable revisions, the line has also seen regular services between Manchester Airport and northern destinations such as Windermere, reached via Wigan NW and the WCML. This line has also been used as a diversionary route. If diversions are planned, then Crow Nest may be a suitable location to check out 'foreign' DMUs and Virgin services. Otherwise it is strictly for DMU fans.
Close to the bridge is a 1970ís-built signal box which controls the junction. With 5 trains per hour in each direction the signalman is kept busy. Crow Nest Junction acts as fringe box between Warrington PSB to the west, Manchester Piccadilly Signalling Centre on the Bolton line and the L&Y mechanical boxes at Atherton Goods Yard or Walkden to the east. All signals in the junction area have now been converted to colour lights.
Semi-rural and quiet.
Minimal vehicle traffic to the farm, occasional dog-walker heading for Borsdane Wood. Expansive views over farmland, with Winter Hill and Rivington Pike dominating to the north. Usually a pleasant spot to wait for the next train.
From M61 Junction 5:
Take the A58 through Westhoughton towards Wigan and St Helens.From the M6, Junction 23 (Northbound) or 24 (Southbound):
Follow the A49 then A58 through Ashton-in-Makerfield and Hindley towards Bolton. You may want to check out the WCML at Bamfurlong Junction if coming this way.
Access track to Crow Nest starts on the A58 by the north-eastern corner of Hindley Cemetery and follows the high stone boundary wall of the cemetery. Hindley Cemetery is less than a mile north-east of Hindley town centre if driving towards Bolton, and is a few hundred yards past the Wigan Metro boundary sign if coming in a south-westerly direction from Westhoughton. The railway is only a couple of hundred yards from the main road, past the first farmhouse.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location Crow Nest Junction map co-ordinates
The farm track is a public right-of-way for pedestrians only (although the Crow Nest signalmen do drive their cars up there and park by the bridge). There is usually room to park off the main A58 at the start of the farm track, or in the small residential cul-de-sac named Castle Hill Park.
Although Hindley station is visible from the Crow Nest bridge, it is a long and roundabout walk from the station via Hindley town centre and is not recommended unless you like uphill walks through busy, dreary streets.
First Manchester operates bus service 559 between Bolton & Hindley which has a stop at Hindley Cemetery, the bus stop is at the start of the farm track.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
There is nothing in the immediate vicinity. A fish and chip shop and local pub on Castle Hill Road towards Hindley. Otherwise Hindley or Westhoughton town centres. Hindley is a little down-at-heel and Westhoughton may provide more pleasant options if you have a car.
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Crow Nest Junction
Crow Nest Junction general view map
Crow Nest Junction close up map
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Crow Nest Junction
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Potential for Manchester-bound trains in the morning and Wigan-bound trains in the afternoon. Wigan-bound trains crossing the junction layout from either Atherton or Bolton lines make more interesting pix.
The line at this point is double track in a shallow cutting, but was once four tracks, so the cutting is quite wide. Trees can restrict lighting in winter months due to shadows.
Encroaching vegetation over redundant trackbed may hinder photography in future.
General views - All photographs © Ian Threlfall unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking east
Fig 2 - Looking east
Fig 3 - Looking east
Fig 4 - Looking east
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