Opened by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, then absorbed by the London and North Western Railway, it became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway during the Grouping of 1923. The line then passed on to the London Midland Region of British Railwayson nationalisation in 1948.
During off-peak periods on weekdays (and weekends) there are:
The majority of trains used are electric class 323 trains. On Sundays the Manchester via Stockport trains extend to Southport. There is a two hourly service to Crewe southbound and to Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport northbound.