The Anonymous Widower

Will The Railway Between Buxton And Matlock Be Reopened?

In Issue 901 of Rail Magazine in an article about reopening the Northern route between Exeter and Plymouth, this is said, about possible rail re-opening of Beeching cuts.

Although not yet confirmed, they are believed by RAIL to include bids to reinstate the former Midland Railway route from Matlock-Buxton, and the line between Lostwithiel and Fowey.

I have found this news story on the Matlock Mercury, which is entitled Quarry Firms And Heritage Operator Consider Peak District Railway Line.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Proposals to revive a disused rail line through the Peak District have moved a step forward, but not the passenger service some have called for.

The reasons for the reinstatement are given in the story.

  • There is an enormous demand for stone from projects like Crossrail 2, High Speed Two and Heathrow Expansion and Derbyshire is a major source.
  • Currently, stone trains between Derbyshire and the South-East take a roundabout route via the congested and unsuitable Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.
  • A route via Matlock would join the Midland Main Line nearly thirty miles further South.

It should be noted that the original track-bed still exists and part is used for the double-track Peak Rail, with much of the rest being used for the cycling and walking route; the Monsal Trail.

Thoughts About The Design Of The Railway

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an excellent article, which is entitled Connecting The Powerhouses, that was written by Colin Boocock.

I wrote a post with the same name, based on his article, from which a lot of the following thoughts are taken.

Colin Boocock’s Thoughts On The Design

I said this in my previous post.

The track bed of the Peak Main Line is still intact and the author of the article suggests that there could be two ways of rebuilding the railway.

  • As a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.
  • As a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route.

Four or five, reopened or new stations could be built with passing loops to enable the minimum service frequency to be achieved, which the author suggests should be the following in both directions in every hour.

  • One fast passenger train
  • One stopping passenger train.
  • One freight train; full or empty.

But there are possible problems.

  • The A6 has to be crossed.
  • One local landowner didn’t allow consultants access to the line for an inspection.
  • Severn Trent Water are digging a large pipe into the track-bed.
  • Peak Rail have plans to extend their heritage line to Bakewell. Could both groups co-exist?

It sounds to me that everybody should find a good hostelry and thrash out a comprehensive co-operation agreement on the backs of engineering envelopes, fuelled by some excellent real ale.

But various improvements to the route and railway technology in general, in the last few years have probably made the reinstatement less challenging.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Improved Handling Of Freight Trains At Buxton

In £14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled, I indicated that the improvements at Buxton had been completed.

  • There are now two long sidings, that can each take a 26 wagon stone train and allow them to reverse.
  • Capacity has increased by 44 %
  • No more trains will be running.

According to this document on the Network Rail web site, the sidings operate on a 24 hour basis and on average, accommodate 6-10 freight trains every 24 hour period.

I’m not sure, but it looks like the sidings also allow all stone trains to access the following.

  • All quarries in the area with a rail connection.
  • The Great Rocks Freight Line to access the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield
  • The proposed reopened rail line to Matlock, Derby and the South.

The track layout at Buxton station would appear to allow trains to go between Manchester and Derby, once the Matlock and Buxton railway is reinstated.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Signalling Improvements

One of Colin Boocock’s options for the route, is a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.

Single-track railways running an intense schedule could be a challenging signalling problem in the past, but with in-cab digital signalling, as used on Thameslink and the London Underground, it is much less onerous.

It should be possible to handle Colin Boocock’s desired minimum frequency of three trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Colin Boocock’s second option of a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route, would be very much easier to signal to a very high degree of safety.

Electrification

Electrification would surely, be the best way to get heavy freight trains in and out of the area.

But I suspect the line could not be electrified in a traditional manner, as heavy gantries in the Peak District would not go down well!

But what about a design something like this?

I talk about this design in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Freight Locomotives

If electrification is not possible, which is probably the case, as the locomotives will need access to large amounts of freight sidings, then diesel power will be needed,

The current Class 66 locomotives are not the most environmentally-friendly locomotives, but hopefully in a sensitive area like the Peak District, some more advanced locomotives could be used.

Passenger Trains

Quiet battery-electric or hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for the route.

How Many Stone Trains Will Use The Route?

With the current lockdown because of COVID-19, it’s a bit difficult to ascertain how many stone trains are currently going into and out of the quarries in an hour.

But from the Network Rail figures, I have found and Colin Boocock’s minimum figure,  it looks like one tph would be a frequency for which to aim.

Could this frequency be handled between Matlock And Buxton?

Even if the route was single-track with passing loops, Colin Boocock’s minimum timetable could be achieved.

Note that the Great Rocks Freight Line will still be capable of handling trains via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.

Conclusion

I think that this scheme could be feasible, if engineers used modern signalling and other designs to blend in with the scenery.

 

 

March 29, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Buxton-Matlock would be a wonderful line to reopen, both in terms of users being able to enjoy some magnificent scenery and for the health of the region, which is blighted by road traffic.

    A good argument for freight traffic is that many of the heavy aggregates trains will have a shorter journey, reducing pollution from diesel emissions and improving the competitiveness of rail compared with road transport.

    If the single track option were to be adopted, at least initially, it might be possible to run occasional excursion trains or summer-only passenger services. This would allow demand to be gauged for expansion and eventual electrification at a later date – so long as provision for this was incorporated from the start. (In the UK we’re not very good at making sensible provision for future expansion or redoubling, building single track bridges when double would not have cost a great deal more or putting signalling infrastructure in the middle of the trackbed when lines were singled.)

    And of course Exeter-Okehampton-Tavistock-Bere Alston is surely the dream that logic demands must become reality eventually – so why delay? Get started on it now instead of trying to shore up the failing Dawlish line. I hope that one day I’ll be able to take a train from Waterloo and ride this well-engineered main line (built on solid granite, not crumbly storm-washed sandstone, Mr Brunel!), gazing out of the carriage window at Dartmoor while crossing one of William Galbraith’s pioneering concrete viaducts.

    Comment by Stephen Spark | March 29, 2020 | Reply

    • I like this reopening, especially, if the rumours that the quarrymen will pay for it are true!

      I do feel that the route could suffer from an outbreak of London Overground Syndrome though.

      https://anonw.com/2018/10/30/london-overground-syndrome/

      Your optimism backs that up!

      I haven’t looked at the Devon scheme yet!

      Comment by AnonW | March 29, 2020 | Reply

  2. Check out MEMRAP.

    Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership.

    John

    On Sun, 29 Mar 2020, 19:18 The Anonymous Widower, wrote:

    > AnonW posted: “In Issue 901 of Rail Magazine in an article about reopening > the Northern route between Exeter and Plymouth, this is said, about > possible rail re-opening of Beeching cuts. Although not yet confirmed, they > are believed by RAIL to include bids to reinstate ” >

    Comment by John Harpur | March 29, 2020 | Reply

    • I will!

      Comment by AnonW | March 29, 2020 | Reply


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