The Anonymous Widower

Exploring The Glossop Line

On the miserable Saturday at the weekend in Manchester, I needed something to do in the dry.

So I took a train to Hadfield station on the Glossop Line and back from Manchester Piccadilly station.

I’ve rarely seen such run-down electrification, except perhaps in some parts of Eastern Europe.

  • The gantries were put up- in the 1950s for the 1500 VDC electrification of the iconic Woodhead Line.
  • It was converted to 25 KVAC in 1964.
  • A lot of the gantries stretch across long-since removed tracks.

At least the train was a reasonably modern three-car Class 323 train from the 1990s.

New Class 331 Trains

These trains will be replaced by new Class 331 trains. Wikipedia says this.

The four-car Class 331 units will be deployed on electrified services from Manchester Piccadilly to replace the Class 323 units which are due to return to Porterbrook at the end of their current lease in 2018.

This means the following.

  • An increase of train operating speed from 90 mph to 100 mph.
  • |An increase in train capacity from 264 to 284.

I also suspect the extra performance of the trains could mean that the current ninety minute round trip between Manchester Piccadilly and Hadfield will be reduced to under an hour. If this can be done, the current three trains needed to run a two trains per hour (tph) service on the line will be reduced to two.

Future Proposals

In the Wikipedia entry for the Glossop Line, there is a section that is entitled Future Proposals. This is a summary of what is said.

  • A new Manchester Piccadilly to Stalybridge service will be introduced.
  • The track between Dinting, Glossop and Hadfield stations will be improved to allow higher operating speeds.
  • The track between Guide Bridge and Dinting stations will be upgraded to allow operating speeds of up to 90 mph.
  • A new stabling facility for up to 20 vehicles will be built at Guide Bridge.

This will allow up to four tph on the route.

I suspect they’ll also need to refurbish the electrification and some of the stations.

Onward From Hadfield

There are always calls from various places to reopend the line past Hadfield to Sheffield, by reopening the Woodhead Liue to Penistone.

  • There are two closed stations before the closed Woodhead Tunnel; Crowden and Woodhead.
  • Most of the route from Hadfield to Woodhead is part of the National Cycle Network.
  • There’s little up there except scenery and the Woodhead Reservoir.

I doubt there would be much of an economic case for extending the line even as far as Woodhead.

If there was serious pressure from those enjoying the scenery it would probably be better served by an electric or hydrogen-powered bus.

High Speed 2

High Speed 2 will mean a major redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station. In the Wikipedia entry for Manchester Piccadilly station under High Speed 2, this is said.

To accommodate High Speed 2 (HS2), an extension would require four platforms and a 7.5 miles (12.1 km) tunnel under south Manchester to join the West Coast Main Line at Ardwick.


  1. These new platforms would appear to be planned to be next to Platform 1, where I caught my train to Hadfield.
  2. As High Speed 2 will be in tunnel, trains from the Glossop Line should be able to cross over into their current platforms.
  3. If there is a four tph service between Manchester Piccadilly and Hadfield, this would need just one platform, capable of handling a four-car train.

There will probably be some interesting platform layouts, that a good architect can exploit.



January 22, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | ,


  1. Although I’m often in Manchester, I’ve never visited Glossop but perhaps I’ll get there one day!

    Comment by Little Miss Traveller | January 22, 2018 | Reply

    • I’ve finished the Gloossop post.

      By the way, I’m getting a lot of spurious posts on my blog. Are you?


      Comment by James | January 23, 2018 | Reply

      • I have also noticed a few comments recently and I had about six spam email followers but WordPress have now removed them. On another topic, we’ve now booked flights to South Korea and will take the train to Busan.

        Comment by Little Miss Traveller | January 23, 2018

  2. They keep talking about a cross-Pennine route but I cannot undestand why they never consider reopening the Woodhead route. A new tunnel was bored and only ever had electric traction through it. The old tunnels are now used for water pipes and other services as far as I know.

    Comment by mauricegreed | January 22, 2018 | Reply

  3. Some of the electrification masts on the Hadfield line were erected in the late 1930s. The outbreak of WWII delayed completion until the 1950s. So, it’s no wonder the gantries look tired at 80 years old. Also, the conversion to 25kV was done in 1984.

    Interesting to read about the future plans. Not something I’ve heard of, despite living very locally. The only things I’ve previously read have centred around conversion to Metrolink or tram-train. Since I doubt the full Woodhead route will ever reopen, it would be nice to see the line improved to better serve commuters and local people going into Manchester.

    Comment by Jonathan | January 23, 2018 | Reply

  4. I’ve read somewhere, that Glossp is the third-busiest station in Derbyshire, after Derby and Chesterfield, so I susopect the County Council is pushing hard for improvements.

    The mathematics say that four tph are possible , with a bit more power and speed, which the new trains and Network Rail should delivery. London, Liverpool and Birmingham use this frequency if they can, and I suspect all local routes out of Manchester will go to this frequency.

    Comment by AnonW | January 24, 2018 | Reply

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