Atherton railway station serves the town of Atherton, Greater Manchester, and is the main station on the line it serves, itself called the Atherton line, between Wigan and Manchester, and according to Strategic Rail Authority figures) is the busiest station on the line (Salford Crescent is technically not on the line).
The station is located 19 km (11¾ miles) north west of Manchester Victoria with regular Northern Rail services to these towns as well as Salford, Swinton and Hindley, with onward trains to Kirkby and Southport.
Atherton is the nearest station to Leigh (Greater Manchester), one of the largest towns in Britain without its own railway station. The bus service 582 provides a frequent service to Leigh (every ten minutes or better) from bus stops a few seconds' walk from the station. This easy connection is not overly promoted by the local authorities and transport executive, who instead are pushing for a guided busway to the town of Leigh: .
The present Atherton station was originally named Atherton Central (although in fact it lies some distance from the centre of the town) to differentiate it from Atherton Bag Lane (on the line from Bolton Great Moor Street to Kenyon Junction) which was closed in 1954. Atherton was also served by a station at Howe Bridge on the line between Wigan North Western and Manchester Exchange.
Monday to Saturday daytimes, two trains per hour go southbound towards Manchester Victoria and Rochdale and two per hour towards Wigan Wallgate (hourly onwards to Southport and Kirkby respectively) northbound.
Evenings there is an hourly service in each direction to Manchester Victoria and Wigan.
Recent timetables provide a convenient connection (although a platform change must be made which is not possible for wheelchair users) at Hindley for services to Bolton.
There is no service all day Sundays.