Fibre broadband rollout takes rail line to rural villages

Fibre broadband cables have been laid along the High Peak Traill to provide high-speed internet access to rural villages
Fibre broadband cables have been laid along the High Peak Traill to provide high-speed internet access to rural villages

A former High Peak rail line is to help connect rural villages once again after high-speed fibre broadband cables were laid along the route.

The disused line between High Peak Junction and Whaley Bridge is now a popular walking and cycling route known as the High Peak Trail.

But beneath the feet of its leisurely users on the stretch from Steeple Grange to Longcliffe there now lie more than seven kilometres of high-tech cables bringing faster broadband services to nearby communities.

Derbyshire County Councillor Dean Collins said: “The internet plays such a big role in our daily lives, whether it’s at work or at home. That’s why we’re aiming to provide 95 per cent of premises in Derbyshire with access to fibre broadband by the end of the year—including in rural areas.”

Completed in 1831, the trackbed of the Cromford and High Peak Railway used to carry minerals from the Cromford canal wharf.

It was turned into a trail 1971, and is now part of the National Cycle Network.

The fibre broadband connection to villages around Brassington starts at the Matlock telephone exchange before travelling alongside the A6 towards Dethick. From there, it heads through Cromford on the B5036 before joining the High Peak Trail for the final leg of the journey.

The cables were laid by engineers from BT’s local network arm, Openreach. The company’s regional director Steve Henderson said: “This was a particularly challenging piece of work. We worked closely with Derbyshire County Council, who are responsible for the trail, as we know it’s a popular tourist attraction.

“Engineers used specialist vehicles and equipment as some of the trail is tight and hilly. Work was also planned to ensure minimal disruption to walkers, cyclists and equestrian users of the bridleway.”

Across the county, more than 430,000 homes and businesses now have access to fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Derbyshire rollout.

The project is being funded by £15.2million from BT, £5m from the council, £9.7m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund, £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund and £2.2m from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.