A NEW study into restoring a defunct section of the Bury to Rochdale train line will have 'no impact' on the East Lancashire Railway's (ELR) services, the heritage attraction has said.

It comes after £50,000 was awarded to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) from the Government’s £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund to finance investigations into the feasibility of reopening the decades old track.

The study will explore how the latest tram-train technology could allow communities in Heywood, Castleton, Rochdale and Oldham to connect with Bury and join the wider Metrolink network.

Councillor Mark Aldred, chair of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, said: “The Government decision to award funding for Rochdale and Greater Manchester’s bid is a welcome first step to allow us to investigate the potential to reinstate six miles of railway between Bury and Rochdale.

“It will allow us to develop a proposal aimed at reopening and improving part of a line that could provide important connections within the city-region, complimenting the heritage operations of the East Lancs Railway."

The stretch of track which is set to be studied was last used in the 1960s before being axed during passenger network cuts.

This line sits separate to the tracks used by the ELR for its heritage services.

Moreover, bosses at the attraction say they are keen to stress that the study will not negatively impact the ELR and could actually be a boon.

Mike Kelly, ELR chairman, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with TfGM on this proposal.

"The study is looking at running battery operated tram-trains on a separate line which does not impact on ELR heritage operations.

"There is also the opportunity for the ELR to benefit from an upgraded main line access to its northern curve, offering a chance to pursue a number of alternative revenue streams for carriage and freight storage.”

Keith Whitmore, ELR Preservation Society vice president and chairman of Greater Manchester Transport Heritage Partnership, added: “The tram-train proposal could be a very significant step forward for the East Lancs Railway to achieve its ambition to connect directly with the main line at Castleton to open up the opportunity to provide visitors with a new gateway to enjoy a joined up heritage railway.

“This proposal will also benefit all our heritage transport attractions in the region, including uniting the new state-of-the-art Greater Manchester Fire Services Museum in Rochdale and the Greater Manchester Transport Museum in Manchester.

"We are looking forward to working with TfGM and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to achieve a first class heritage transport offering.”