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

Fresh Calls For ‘Missing Link’ Buxton To Matlock Railway Line To Be Reopened

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Buxton Advertiser.

I wrote in full about this route in Connecting The Powerhouses, after an article was published in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This was my conclusion.

It’s very difficult to find a reason not to reopen the Peak Main Line.

I think in the last two years the case for reopening the Peak Main Line between Buxton and Matlock may have become even stronger.

MEMRAP

A group called the Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership or MEMRAP has been setup to promote the case for reopening.

A web site has been created.

New Lower-Carbon And Quieter Passenger Trains

Rolling stock has improved and trains like tri-mode Class 755 trains and possible battery electric trains, should be able to handle the route in a more environmentally-friendly way.

Transport Of Building Materials

This is a paragraph from the Buxton Advertiser article.

Funding for the project, according to Mr Greenwood, would come from working in partnership with local quarries which are supplying materials for the new Heathrow Airport runway and are involved with the HS2 project.

Network Rail has already have spent a lot of money to improve freight access to the quarries, as I reported in £14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled. So the demand for building materials must be there and going via Matlock would remove some heavy freight trains from the Hope Valley Line.

Heavy freight trains might not be welcomed by all stakeholders.

Possible High Speed Two Cutbacks

As I wrote in Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2, The Eastern leg of High Speed Two might be axed.

This may or may not change the case for reopening the Peak Main Line.

There Will Be Opposition

This is two paragraphs from the Buxton Advertiser article.

Peak Rail has long campaigned to re-open the line for heritage trains to run between Buxton and Matlock. However, director Paul Tomlinson said he was not in favour of the new plans.

He said: “I’m all in favour raising the profile of the line to get it re-opened but we can’t support this new idea.

Others will also object.

Conclusion

There will be various opposing pressures on both sides of reopening the Peak MNain Line.

In favour will be.

  • The quarries.
  • Cities like Derby and Nottingham and passengers wanting better links to and from Manchester and its Airport.
  • Transport for the North, as opening could increase capacity on the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield.

Local interests will want to maintain the status quo.

October 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

£14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

I discussed this project in full in Peak District Freight Sidings Get £18m Network Rail Boost, where I showed this Google Map of the sidings at Buxton, where the stone trains must reverse.

This latest Google Map, which is to a more detailed scale and 3D, clearly shows the lengthened sidings alongside the Manchester-Buxton Line.

Note the footbridge across the lines appears in both maps.

Conclusion

It looks to me that Network Rail have managed to implement this freight project to bring more stone out of the Peak District by train.

As the cost of the completed project is quoted as less than the figure quoted before the project started., the project could even have been completed within the budget.

This has been a project when £18million has been spent for these benefits.

  • Each train will transport 2,500 tonnes of materials.
  • Each train will take 76 lorry loads from the roads.
  • Less trains will be needed to transport the same tonnage.

How many other small projects like this could be undertaken?

 

 

 

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Peak District Freight Sidings Get £18m Network Rail Boost

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This Google Map shows the spa town of Buxton and the surrounding countryside.

One of the towns major industries is quarrying and the white areas to the East of the town are the quarries. The large quarry at the top of the map is Tunstead Quarry, which produces 5.5 million tonnes of limestone a year.

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the uses of limestone.

Limestone has numerous uses: as a building material, an essential component of concrete (Portland cement), as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock for the production of lime, as a soil conditioner, or as a popular decorative addition to rock gardens.

So how does all this limestone get to where it is needed?

This map from this document on the Network Rail web site, shows the rail lines to the quarries

Note the two freight lines.

  • The Great Rocks Freight Line goes between a junction near Chinley station on the Hope Valley Line to Buxton via Tunstead Quarry and is used to take heavy trains into and out of the area.
  • The Quarry Freight Line connects other quarries to Buxton.

Trains going to and from the quarries on the Quarry Freight Line must reverse in sidings at Buxton to access the Great Rocks Freight Line.

This Google Map shows the various lines at Buxton.

Buxton station is in the South West corner of the map and the Buxton Line to Manchester goes out at the North.

The two freight lines come to Buxton from the South East and join in  the sidings that run along the Buxton Line.

I took these pictures in March 2017.

They show the sidings, as my train approached Buxton station.

It would be desirable to be able to run longer trains to and from Hindlow and Dowlow quaries on the Quarry Freight Line, but these sidings are not long enough to reverse the longer trains.

The £18million project will lengthen the sidings, so trains can consist of 26 instead of 18 wagons.

  • Each train will transport 2,500 tonnes of materials.
  • Each train will take 76 lorry loads from the roads.

The longer trains will mean that no new train paths will be needed on the crowded rail network.

Conclusion

This is only a small project, but it will increase freight capacity to and from Hindlow and Dowlow quarries by forty-four percent.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Lunch In Buxton

These pictures show my time in Buxton.

The lunch in the Hydro Cafe was excellent.

Onward From Buxton

There are lines that branch off to the left as you reach Buxton. This the closed Ashbourne Line, which still carries stone and other quarried products from Hindley.

I wouldn’t be surprised that some of this route and others in the area, were reopened to passenger traffic.

March 9, 2017 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments