RAIL enthusiasts have been told inspections are being conducted after the tragic death of a woman who died after gaining access to the East Lancs heritage line.

An inquiry is underway by police and the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) after an incident near the Alfred Street bridge in Bury.

No services have run on the East Lancs Railway (ELR) since lockdown began and an appeal has been launched to keep the organisation afloat.

Bosses at ELR have previously revealed the extent to which trespassers have hampered their efforts.

It is believed there was damaged fencing around the Alfred Street bridge, which may have allowed access to the line. It is understood an elderly woman, who has not been named, was found there in a confused state. She is said to have later died.

Mike Kelly, ELR chairman, said: “I can confirm there has been an incident on the railway during the lockdown period, when there were no trains running.

“It is normal in such circumstances to report the incident to the ORR and we are working closely with them and assisting the police with their enquiries. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the lady’s family. As there is a coroner’s inquest pending it is not possible to comment further.”

Rail campaigners have been told ‘shakedown trains’, usually a precursor to full services resuming, cannot run on the line until full inspections take place on the Bury to Heywood and Bury to Rawtenstall lines.

Mr Kelly added: “After being closed for three months, there is much repair and maintenance work to do behind the scenes to prepare the railway for our staff, volunteers and visitors to safely return and enjoy the unique heritage rail experience. At present there is no firm date to start running trains.”

An ORR spokesman confirmed inspections had taken place but said the police inquiry now took precedence.