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Hope Valley Line

Hope Valley Line
A couple of Northern Rail Pacers at Hathersage
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational

North West England

Yorkshire and the Humber
Termini Manchester Piccadilly
Opened 1894
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) East Midlands Trains
Northern Rail
First TransPennine Express
Depot(s) Longsight
No. of tracks Two
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV 50Hz AC OHLE (Western part)
Operating speed 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) maximum
Hope Valley Line
Manchester Lines to Salford
Manchester Piccadilly
to Manchester Airport
River Medlock
Heaton Chapel
Belle Vue
Ryder Brow
First site
Reddish North
Reddish South
River Mersey
Guide Bridge
Stockport to Stalybridge Line
to Stalybridge
River Tame
Peak Forest Canal
Mid-Cheshire Line
Glossop Line
to Hadfield and Glossop
West Coast Main Line
Hyde North
Hyde Central
Hazel Grove
Buxton Line
Rose Hill Marple
Mid-Cheshire Line
River Etherow
Disley Tunnel
Peak Forest Canal
Macclesfield Canal
Peak Forest Canal
River Goyt
River Goyt
New Mills Central
Hayfield branch
Buxton Line
to Buxton (Freight only)
Cowburn Tunnel
Earles Sidings
River Derwent
6230 yd 
5697 m 
Totley Tunnel
Freight line to MML
Dore and Totley
Midland Main Line

The Hope Valley Line is a trans-Pennine railway line in England linking Sheffield with Manchester. It was completed in 1894.

From Sheffield, trains head down the Midland Main Line to Dore and Totley, where the Hope Valley Line branches off to run through the Totley Tunnel (the fourth longest in England).

It emerges in the Hope Valley area of Derbyshire, where it passes through the railway stations of Grindleford, Hathersage, Bamford, Hope, and Edale before entering the two-mile-long Cowburn Tunnel.

From the western portal of the tunnel, the line runs through Chinley, then splits. The northern branch runs via New Mills toward Manchester Piccadilly. The southern branch passes through the Disley Tunnel before merging with the Buxton line and then heading to Stockport to join the main line to Manchester.

Passenger services on the line are currently operated by Northern Rail (previously First North Western), East Midlands Trains (previously Central Trains) and TransPennine Express (previously Arriva Trains Northern).


  • History 1
    • Sheffield and Midland Joint Section 1.1
    • Dore and Chinley 1.2
    • Recent history 1.3
    • Metrolink proposals 1.4
  • Plans 2
  • References 3


Sheffield and Midland Joint Section

Sketch map of Midland Railway lines into Manchester

This section was built by the Sheffield and Midland Railway Companies' Committee as part of the Midland Railway's drive to reach Manchester with its line from London via Ambergate and Millers Dale. Initially, in 1867, it joined the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Hyde Junction, running into Manchester London Road, but in 1875 a more direct route was built through Bredbury. When Manchester Central was opened by the Cheshire Lines Committee, a new line was built through Heaton Mersey. This third route was closed along with Manchester Central, apart from the section through Disley Tunnel to Hazel Grove, where it now joins the old LNWR line into Stockport.

Dore and Chinley

Sketch map of Dore and Chinley Line

In 1872, the Midland Railway's only route from Sheffield to Manchester was via Ambergate. It had originally proposed a line to run from Dore to Hassop meeting its extension from Rowsley to Buxton. However, the "Dore and Chinley Railway" was floated independently in 1872, and unsuccessfully, until the Midland took an interest, since it would provide a more direct route, connecting through Chinley into Manchester. The line was authorised in 1884 and work began in 1888.

The 21-mile (34 km) line took six years to build. The terrain through Hope Valley and Edale was easy enough by Midland standards, but at each end there were formidable obstacles, negotiated by means of the Totley and Cowburn Tunnels.

Recent history

At the time of the Beeching review, the line was running in competition with the recently modernised, more direct and faster route through the Woodhead Tunnel, and its closure was suggested. On appeal, British Rail, being required to keep the Hope Valley line open to passenger traffic, instead shut the Woodhead route to passengers (and then subsequently to freight).

Metrolink proposals

In the early 1980s, proposals were put forward to convert the Piccadilly-Belle Vue-Rose Hill/Marple section of the Hope Valley Line to light rail operation for the proposed Manchester Metrolink system. While construction of Metrolink went ahead, the Hope Valley line was not included in the system completed in 1992.[1] When in 2000, proposals for a large-scale extension of Metrolink were announced by the government, these still did not include conversion of the Hope Valley line; but subsequently, planning documents from Network Rail and from the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority have suggested that this route might be appropriate for tram-train operation, and as such it was suggested to the Department for Transport as a possible location for a national tram-train pilot.


Nottinghamshire County Council and the Department for Transport are investigating the possibility of adding another service that does not call at Sheffield in order to improve the journey time between Nottingham and Manchester. It currently takes 115 minutes, but the council believes it could be cut to 90 minutes. Improvements to allow faster speeds on a 2.5-mile stretch near Stockport could also shave off 2–3 minutes.[2]

Network Rail, in partnership with South Yorkshire ITA, will redouble the track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, at an estimated cost of £15 million. This costing is based on four additional vehicles in traffic to deliver the option, however, this will depend on vehicle allocation through the DfT rolling stock plan. This work will be programmed for between 2009 and 2016, subject to funding, is conjunction with signalling renewals in the Dore/Totley Tunnel area.

Other proposals include freight loops in the Hope and Grindleford areas, again, subject to funding, in order to fit in either a peak-busting, or all-day (07:00–19:00) hourly Manchester - Sheffield via New Mills Central service, by extending an existing Manchester - New Mills Central service.[3]


  1. ^ "125mph Trains to Cut Journey Times". Nottingham Evening Post. 12 April 2008. 
  2. ^ "Yorkshire & Humber RUS Appendix 4 - Options Appraisal" (PDF). Network Rail. 
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