Castleton Junction plays an important part in the local railway infrastructure. The adjacent yard has had a long history involving many uses, with the latest being its use as an interchange for construction traffic involved in the conversion of the Oldham Loop railway into a Metrolink tram route.
Its other great potential is that a future new Castleton Station may be built adjacent to the yard to accommodate the heritage services of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR).
Currently, all access to Network Rail's main line for ELR stock transfers is via the Castleton East or South Junctions. Together with Castleton North Junction, these junctions form a triangle. In steam days this triangle was used to facilitate the turning of locomotives on Rochdale services which were too long to fit on Rochdale's turntable. Forty years after the end of steam traction, this triangle is used regularly to turn locomotives and sometimes complete trains in connection with heritage rail tours.
Castleton Down Goods Loop, as well as its primary function as a place where freight trains may be recessed to allow faster trains to overtake, is used also by steam-hauled rail tours as a refuge in which they are berthed whilst their steam locomotives' water supplies are replenished.
The ELR's plan to run services into Castleton is supported by STORM and plans are with Rochdale Borough Council to make the connection a reality in the future.
The site is also adjacent to the Rochdale Canal and would provide a further tourist attraction with tourists arriving by barge and extending their journeys by rail from a station a matter of yards away.