Network Rail hits major milestone in Peak District line upgrade project

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While many rail passengers may be struggling to navigate journeys home for Christmas this weekend, there is some hope of better days ahead in Derbyshire with the announcement that a major upgrade project is nearing completion.

The final pieces of rail track have been installed to help relieve a long-standing bottleneck on the Hope Valley line, which should allow for faster and more reliable travel between the region’s two biggest cities and Peak District stops by mid-2024.

Network Rail spokesperson Graeme Whitehead said: “It’s fantastic to see another important milestone reached on the Hope Valley Railway upgrade.

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“This is an important step that will allow us to improve journeys for those travelling via rail between Manchester and Sheffield for years to come.”

Engineering and construction works have been taking place along the Hope Valley line throughout 2023. (Photo: Network Rail)Engineering and construction works have been taking place along the Hope Valley line throughout 2023. (Photo: Network Rail)
Engineering and construction works have been taking place along the Hope Valley line throughout 2023. (Photo: Network Rail)

Totalling 850 metres in length, the track forms part of a new passing loop between Bamford and Hathersage stations to allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains on the route.

Construction of the passing loop has taken place over the past year, including during two full weekend line closures, and has used a total of 1,323 sleepers and 3,600 tonnes of ballast for the bottom and top stone.

A number of structures have also been extended by the team to facilitate the work, including a bridge and three culverts, which allow water to run beneath the railway.

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The passing loop is expected to be operational sometime in the spring once signalling works and final safety checks are signed off.

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The full benefits of the upgrade work should be apparent by mid-2024 if everything goes according to plan. (Photo: Network Rail)The full benefits of the upgrade work should be apparent by mid-2024 if everything goes according to plan. (Photo: Network Rail)
The full benefits of the upgrade work should be apparent by mid-2024 if everything goes according to plan. (Photo: Network Rail)

James Goldsby, project director for the VolkerRailStory joint venture, said: “We’re very pleased to say that the major elements of track work for the Bamford loop have been completed.

“It’s taken a large amount of work and planning to get here and we are looking forward to completing the final signalling elements to allow the benefits for passengers to be realised

The loop is part the wider Hope Valley line upgrade, with a total of 3,923 metres of new track now been installed to provide additional passing places for trains.

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This includes in Dore and Totley, where work has also been taking place to upgrade the station with a new, accessible footbridge and a second platform.

Almost four kilometres of new track have been laid in the valley so far. (Photo: Network Rail)Almost four kilometres of new track have been laid in the valley so far. (Photo: Network Rail)
Almost four kilometres of new track have been laid in the valley so far. (Photo: Network Rail)

Preparation for track replacement work in Grindleford is also underway, which will be completed in the New Year as part of the modernisation of the signalling systems.

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