THE UNVEILING of the proposed route of the UK’s High Speed Rail (HS2) network has sparked fresh calls for the reopening of two iconic High Peak railway lines.
Government transport chiefs last week announced the preferred route of phase two of the HS2 network, from Birmingham northward along two branches: to Manchester Airport and Manchester; and via Toton near Nottingham, to Sheffield and Leeds.
Rail campaigner Edmund Bradbury, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, has written to Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to seek the current views of the Department of Transport on the possibility of reopening the Buxton to Matlock line, and the Woodhead line in the Longdendale Valley, between Glossop/Hadfield and Sheffield, insisting both would be of considerable benefit to the economy and the environment.
In his letter, Mr Bradbury, founder and chairman of the former High Peak Rail Passengers Association, highlighted the distinct strategic advantages of reopening the through route from Chinley to Matlock, which was closed to passenger traffic in July 1968.
He said: “The restoration of a through passenger service on the route would create a valuable link between Manchester and the North West and the Midlands cities of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, and would also provide an alternative route to London from Manchester to supplement the heavily-used West Coast Main Line.
The northern section of the route remains open for freight traffic from the quarries near Buxton, while in the south Peak Rail has restored the line from Matlock to Rowsley South.
Mr Bradbury said: “Currently the freight quarry traffic with a destination in the south has to travel north and then east on the busy Hope Valley line to connect with the Midland Main Line.
“From the quarries, the line passes through the Dove Holes tunnel, in which work costing over £4 million has been undertaken recently.”
He said the reopening of the Woodhead route, through Longdendale, would create the opportunity for a fast passenger service between Manchester and Sheffield, as well as creating a strategic freight route from Manchester to the East of England, and in particular the East Coast ports.
The route closed to freight traffic in 1981, having shut earlier for passengers.
Mr Bradbury is also asking East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin if there is a possibility of EEC funding being available for the restoration of the routes.
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