The Anonymous Widower

Expanding The Robin Hood Line

The Robin Hood Line, runs between Nottingham and Worksop. It had been closed to passenger trains in the 1960s and reopened to passengers in the 1990s. I used to use it regularly to see a client in Mansfield in the years soon after it opened.

A Proposed Branch To Ollerton

In my investigations into Ilkeston station, the Robin Hood Line kept cropping up and especially talk of a branch from the line to Ollerton.

Search Google News for Robin Hood Line and articles with titles like Chancellor backs Robin Hood line passenger plans are found in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad. This is the start to the article.

The Chancellor George Osborne, has confirmed his backing for plans to open a passenger service on the Robin Hood line, from Shirebrook to Ollerton, including passenger stations at Ollerton and Edwinstowe.

Other Government figures like David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin and important local councillors are also quoted saying similar things.

What is not said is that the line will serve the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest and that the rail line needed is currently fully maintained for driver training. This Google Map shows the area.

Proposed Ollerton Branch

Proposed Ollerton Branch

The branch turns off from the Robin Hood Line just North of Shirebrook station in the top left hand corner of the map and then makes it way to Ollerton by way of the South of Warsop and Edwinstowe and North of the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest .

The line probably illustrates the only environmentally-friendly use for coal, which is to keep rail lines open and in good condition, until we can find a better use for them.

There is an interesting section called Branch Lines in the Wikipedia entry for Shirebrook station. This is said.

Two branch lines are plainly visible veering off north of the bridge at the north end of Shirebrook station.

The double tracks branching off eastwards (i.e. to the right as viewed from the station) to the side of the signalbox joined the LD&ECR’s one-time main line to Lincoln, next stop Warsop. The branch only ever carried a regular passenger service for a few years in Edwardian times. It did, however, carry Summer holiday trains such as the Summer Saturdays Radford to Skegness in at least 1963. The branch’s main purpose was always freight traffic, with coal being overwhelmingly dominant.

In 2013 the line gives access to Thoresby Colliery and to the High Marnham Test Track.

There is some hope of reopening the line as a branch off the Robin Hood Line and reopening Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton stations, providing an hourly service to Mansfield and Nottingham.

This Google Map shows Shirebrook station and the railway lines around it.

Shirebrook Station

Shirebrook Station

The junction of the Ollerton branch would appear to allow access to trains from or to either Nottingham and Mansfield in the South and Worksop in the North

So there could be three stations; Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton on a double-track branch.

From Ollerton To Lincoln

Interestingly, after Ollerton the line goes all the way to Lincoln. But I doubt that it would ever be part of the plans for passenger trains in the area.

But who knows?

Services To Derby

The area between Chesterfield, Mansfield and Nottingham is not very well connected to Derby.

If you want to go from Mansfield or Kirkby-in-Ashfield on the Robin Hood Line to Derby, you always have to change at Nottingham, with sometimes an extra change at East Midlands Parkway.

The Erewash Valley Line runs North-South a few miles to the West of the Robin Hood Line.

Despite being partially in Derbyshire, getting from stations like Alfreton, Langley Mill and the soon-to-be-opened Ilkeston stations to Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.

Look at this Google Map of the area

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield


There must be a better way of getting to Derby, than by changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.

But what?

There are four main North-South routes in the area.

What seems to be missing is high-capacity East-West routes for both rail and road.

The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.

In a Notes on Current Station section on the Wikipedia entry for Long Eaton station, this is said.

It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.

It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.

It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Alfreton, Ilkeston and Langley Mill to both Derby and Mansfield. This service would also improve services from stations stations North of Mansfield to Derby.

A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfreton and the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.

It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.

The Future Of Railways In North Nottingham And South Yorkshire

Look at any map of the area between Nottingham and Derby in the South to Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley in the North and you will see rail lines criss-crossing everywhere. Many are now disused and show up as green scars on the landscape.

Also on the maps, you will see quite a few large power stations. Most were originally coal-fired and merry-go-round trains transported the coal from the mines to the power stations.

So most of the rail lines in the area, were built to take the coal away from the mines to where it was needed. Passengers were almost an afterthought. The railway companies even built the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Doncaster to East Anglia to take coal to where it could profitably be used.

After the Second World War, the railways contracted and cut passenger services. As an example, the Robin Hood Line closed in the 1960s.

The passenger services were suffering because of car ownership, so most were withdrawn, except on the main routes. Mansfield before the Robin Hood Line reopened, was one of the largest towns in England without a rail station, an honour now held by Ilkeston a few miles away.

In recent years, coal use has in my view rightly declined. Everybody knows the poor environmental record of coal, with its creation of CO2 and other pollutants. On the other hand, I have met people whose fathers worked in the mines and the general advice they received is don’t go underground!

So as the need to move coal by rail has declined, many of these railway lines have ceased to carry much freight traffic and have fallen into disuse.

But some are coal’s last legacy, in that until comparatively recently, they were still used to get coal to the power stations. Like the line from Shirebrook to Ollerton, they are in good condition and only need stations to bring them back into use as passenger lines. Just as the Robin Hood Line was reused twenty years ago!

Because these lines serves the coalfields and the mines, they also serve the mining communities and the small towns, that need improved public transport links.

Network Rail’s plans seem to be going some way to be addressing some of the problems in the area.

I don’t think that the reopening of the Ollerton Branch and the connection between the vErewash Valley and Robin Hood Lines, will be the last lines to reopen in the area.


September 11, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


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