Midland Main Line

Last updated

Midland Main Line
43055 Claycross.jpg
Owner Network Rail
Locale Greater London
East of England
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
Stations35 (London to Sheffield)
Type Intercity, commuter rail,
regional rail and heavy rail
System National Rail
Operator(s) East Midlands Railway
TransPennine Express
GB Railfreight
DB Cargo
Direct Rail Services
Depot(s) Cricklewood
Derby Etches Park
Nottingham Eastcroft
Sheffield Station
Neville Hill
Rolling stock High Speed Trains
Class 150 Sprinter
Class 153 Super Sprinter
Class 156 Super Sprinter
Class 158 Express Sprinter
Class 170 Turbostar
Class 180 Adelante
Class 185 Desiro
Class 220 Voyager
Class 221 Super Voyager
Class 222 Meridian
Class 700 Desiro City
Class 360 Desiro
OpenedStages between 1830s–1860s
Number of tracks2–4
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gauge W6W8, [1] planned upgrade to W12 [2]
Electrification 25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
(London St Pancras International to Corby)
Operating speedMaximum 125 mph (201 km/h)
Route map
Midland Main Line Map en.png
Midland Railway
 "New Road" (1870) 
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Attercliffe Road
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Sheffield Midland
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and Ecclesall
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Dore & Totley
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Tapton Junction
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The Midland Main Line is a major railway line in England from London to Sheffield in Yorkshire via the East Midlands. It comprises the lines from London's St Pancras station via Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Chesterfield.


Express passenger services on the line are operated by East Midlands Railway. The line is electrified between St Pancras and Corby, and the section south of Bedford forms a branch of the northern half of the Thameslink network, with a semi-fast service to Brighton and other suburban services. A northern part of the route, between Derby and Chesterfield, also forms part of the Cross Country Route operated by CrossCountry. Tracks from Nottingham to Leeds via Barnsley and Sheffield are shared with Northern. East Midlands Railway also operates regional and local services using parts of the line.

The Midland Main Line is undergoing a major upgrade of new digital signalling and full line electrification from London to Sheffield. [3] HS2 is to branch onto the Midland Main Line at East Midlands Parkway railway station. [4]


Midland Counties early developments

The Midland Main Line (green) in relation to other main lines British main lines railway diagram.png
The Midland Main Line (green) in relation to other main lines
British Rail APT-E built at Derby rail technical centre and extensively tested on the Midland Main Line its first run being on 25 July 1972 from Derby to Duffield ATP-E IN YARD.jpg
British Rail APT-E built at Derby rail technical centre and extensively tested on the Midland Main Line its first run being on 25 July 1972 from Derby to Duffield

The Midland Main Line was built in stages between the 1830s and the 1870s. The earliest section was opened by the Midland Counties Railway between Nottingham and Derby on 4 June 1839. [5] On 5 May 1840 the section of the route from Trent Junction to Leicester was opened. [6]

The line at Derby was joined on 1 July 1840 by the North Midland Railway to Leeds Hunslet Lane via Chesterfield, Rotherham Masborough, [n 1] Swinton, and Normanton.

On 10 May 1844 the North Midland Railway, the Midland Counties Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway merged to form the Midland Railway.

Midland Main Line southern extensions

Without its own route to London, the Midland Railway relied upon a junction at Rugby with the London and Birmingham Railway line for access to the capital at London Euston. By the 1850s, the junction at Rugby had become severely congested. The Midland Railway employed Thomas Brassey to construct a new route from Leicester to Hitchin via Kettering, Wellingborough, and Bedford giving access to London via the Great Northern Railway from Hitchin. [7] The Crimean War resulted in a shortage of labour and finance, and only £900,000 (equivalent to £91,340,000in 2021) [8] was available for the construction, approximately £15,000 for each mile. [9] To reduce construction costs, the railway followed natural contours, resulting in many curves and gradients. Seven bridges and one tunnel were required, with 60 ft cuttings at Desborough and Sharnbrook. There are also major summits at Kibworth, Desbrough and at Sharnbrook where a 1 in 119 gradient from the south over 3 miles takes the line to 340 feet (100 m) above sea level. This route opened for coal traffic on 15 April 1857, goods on 4 May, and passengers on 8 May. [10] The section between Leicester and Bedford is still part of the Midland Main Line.

While this took some of the pressure off the route through Rugby, the GNR insisted that passengers for London alight at Hitchin, buying tickets in the short time available, to catch a GNR train to finish their journey. James Allport arranged a seven-year deal with the GN to run into Kings Cross for a guaranteed £20,000 a year (equivalent to £2,030,000in 2021). [8] Through services to London were introduced in February 1858. [11]

This line met with similar capacity problems at Hitchin as the former route via Rugby, so a new line was constructed from Bedford via Luton to St Pancras [12] which opened on 1 October 1868. [9] The construction of the London extension cost £9 million (equivalent to £861 million in 2021). [13]

As traffic built up, the Midland Railway opened a new deviation just north of Market Harborough railway station on 26 June 1885 to remove the flat crossing of the Rugby and Stamford Railway. [14]

Northernmost sections

Plans by the Midland Railway to build a direct line from Derby to Manchester were thwarted in 1863 by the builders of the Buxton line who sought to monopolise on[ clarification needed ] the West Coast Main Line.

In 1870, the Midland Railway opened a new route from Chesterfield to Rotherham which went through Sheffield via the Bradway Tunnel.

The mid-1870s, saw the Midland line extended northwards through the Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley on what is now called the Settle–Carlisle Railway.

Before the line closures of the Beeching era, the lines to Buxton and via Millers Dale during most years presented an alternate (and competing) main line from London to Manchester, carrying named expresses such as The Palatine and the "Blue Pullman" diesel powered Manchester - London service (the Midland Pullman ). Express trains to Leeds and Scotland such as the Thames–Clyde Express mainly used the Midland's corollary Erewash Valley line, returned to it, and then used the Settle–Carlisle line. Expresses to Edinburgh Waverley, such as The Waverley travelled through Corby and Nottingham.

Under British Railways and privatisation

Most Leicester-Nottingham local passenger trains were taken over by diesel units from 14 April 1958, taking about 51 minutes between the two cities. [15]

When the Great Central Main Line closed in 1966, the Midland Main Line became the only direct main-line rail link between London and the East Midlands and parts of South Yorkshire.

The Beeching cuts and electrification of the West Coast Main Line brought an end to the marginally longer London–Manchester service via Sheffield.

In 1977, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended considering electrification of more of Britain's rail network, and by 1979 BR presented a range of options that included electrifying the Midland Main Line from London to Yorkshire by 2000. [16] By 1983, the line had been electrified from Moorgate to Bedford, but proposals to continue electrification to Nottingham and Sheffield were not implemented.

A Midland Mainline High Speed Train, introduced in 1983 by British Rail, at Nottingham in 2005 MML43083 at Nottingham 2005-10-14 03.jpg
A Midland Mainline High Speed Train, introduced in 1983 by British Rail, at Nottingham in 2005

The introduction of the High Speed Train (HST) in May 1983, following the Leicester area resignalling, brought about an increase of the ruling line speed on the fast lines from 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h).

Between 2001 and 2003, the line between Derby and Sheffield was upgraded from 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) as part of Operation Princess, the Network Rail funded CrossCountry route upgrade.

In January 2009, a new station, East Midlands Parkway, was opened between Loughborough and Trent Junction, to act as a park-and-ride station for suburban travellers from East Midlands cities and to serve nearby East Midlands Airport. [17]

Since then, 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) running has been introduced on extended stretches. Improved signalling, increased number of tracks, and the revival of proposals to extend electrification from Bedford to Sheffield are underway. Much of this £70 million upgrade, including some line-speed increases, came online on 9 December 2013 (see below). [18]

Network Rail route strategy for freight 2007

Network Rail published a Route Utilisation Strategy for freight in 2007; [19] over the coming years a cross-country freight route will be developed enhancing the Birmingham to Peterborough Line, increasing capacity through Leicester, and remodelling Syston and Wigston junctions.

Network Rail 2010 route plan

Bridges over the Midland Main Line have been replaced to allow greater clearances for electrification and larger rolling stock. Before (top) and after (bottom) the 2014 upgrade. New Road Bridge, Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire.png
Bridges over the Midland Main Line have been replaced to allow greater clearances for electrification and larger rolling stock. Before (top) and after (bottom) the 2014 upgrade.

Traffic levels on the Midland Main Line are rising faster than the national average, with continued increases predicted. In 2006, the Strategic Rail Authority produced a Route Utilisation Strategy for the Midland Main Line to propose ways of meeting this demand; [20] Network Rail started a new study in February 2008 and this was published in February 2010. [21] [22] [23] [24]

After electrification, the North Northamptonshire towns (Wellingborough, Kettering, and Corby) are planned to have an additional 'Outer Suburban service' into London St Pancras, similar to the West Midlands Trains' Crewe – London Euston services, to cater for the growing commuter market. North Northamptonshire is a major growth area, with over 7,400 new homes planned to be built in Wellingborough [25] and 5,500 new homes planned for Kettering. [26] [27]

Highlights include: [28]

New station building at West Hampstead Thameslink West Hampstead Thameslink Station building.jpg
New station building at West Hampstead Thameslink

The Thameslink Programme has lengthened the platforms at most stations south of Bedford to 12-car capability. St Pancras, Cricklewood, Hendon, and Luton Airport Parkway were already long enough, but bridges at Kentish Town mean it cannot expand beyond the current 8-car platform length. West Hampstead Thameslink has a new footbridge and a new station building. In September 2014 the current Thameslink Great Northern franchise was awarded and trains on this route are currently operated by Thameslink. In 2018 the Thameslink network will expand when some Southern services are merged into it.[ needs update ]

Station improvements

In 2013/14 Nottingham station was refurbished and the platforms restructured.

As part of Wellingborough's Stanton Cross development, Wellingborough station is to be expanded. [34]

Ilkeston between Nottingham and Langley Mill was opened on 2 April 2017. [35]

Two new stations are planned:

Some new stations have been proposed:

Extension of electrification

Electrification work and track being relaid at Wellingborough in 2019 2019 at Wellingborough station - Up Slow line being relaid.JPG
Electrification work and track being relaid at Wellingborough in 2019

Unlike the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines, the Midland Main Line has not been electrified along its full length. The line was electrified as far as Bedford in the early 1980s, but services relied on diesel traction beyond that.

In 2011 work commenced to extend the electrification, including to both Corby and Nottingham. Increasing costs initially saw this terminated at Kettering, but it was later extended to Market Harborough. [42] [43] [44] [45]

In May 2022, a briefing to contractors was released ahead of an invitation to tender for Midland Mainline Electrification project work to extend electrification to Nottingham and Sheffield. This scheme is expected to cost £1.3 billion. [46]

2021 Integrated Rail Plan

In November 2021 the Government announced its Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands which made a number of proposals for the Midland Main Line. These included a commitment to complete the stalled electrification work, an upgrade to digital signalling, and a connection to High Speed 2. The latter would see a junction built south of East Midlands Parkway station rather than the previous plan of an East Midlands Hub further north on the Toton sidings. This will allow HS2 services to connect to both Derby and Nottingham city centres directly using the MML for access, which was a criticism of the previous HS2 eastern leg proposal. [4]

Route definition

The term Midland Main Line has been used from the late 1840s to describe any route of the Midland Railway on which express trains were operated.

It is first recorded in print in 1848 in Bradshaw's railway almanack of that year. [47] In 1849 it begins to be mentioned regularly in newspapers such as the Derby Mercury . [48]

In 1867, the Birmingham Journal uses the term to describe the new railway running into St Pancras railway station. [49]

In 1868, the term was used to describe the Midland Railway main route from North to South through Sheffield [50] and also on routes to Manchester, Leeds and Carlisle.

Under British Rail the term was used to define the route between St Pancras and Sheffield, but since then, Network Rail has restricted it in its description of Route 19 [51] to the lines between St. Pancras and Chesterfield.



East Midlands Railway Class 222 at Leicester Leicester - Abellio 222104 arriving from Lincoln.JPG
East Midlands Railway Class 222 at Leicester
Thameslink Class 700 700013 Sevenoaks to London Blackfriars 2B81 (37214254496).jpg
Thameslink Class 700

East Midlands Railway

The principal operator is East Midlands Railway, which operates four InterCity trains every hour from London St Pancras with two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield. EMR use Class 222 Meridian and Class 180 Adelante trains in various carriage formations for its InterCity services.

EMR also operate a twice hourly commuter service from London St Pancras to Corby, which is branded as EMR Connect, using Class 360 Desiro electric trains. [52]

Thameslink provides frequent, 24-hour [53] commuter services south of Bedford as part of its Thameslink route to London Bridge, Gatwick Airport, Brighton, and Sutton, using 8-car and 12-car electric Class 700 trains. [54]

Other operators

CrossCountry runs half-hourly services between Derby and Sheffield on its route between the South West and North East, and hourly services from Nottingham to Birmingham and Cardiff. Northern runs an hourly service from Leeds to Nottingham via Barnsley and Alfreton.

Other operators include TransPennine Express in the Sheffield area.

Route description

The cities, towns and villages served by the MML are listed below. Stations in bold have a high usage. This table includes the historical extensions to Manchester (where it linked to the West Coast Main Line) and Carlisle (via Leeds where it meets with the 'modern' East Coast Main Line).

Network Rail groups all lines in the East Midlands and the route north as far as Chesterfield and south to London as route 19. The actual line extends beyond this into routes 10 and 11.

London to Nottingham and Sheffield (Network Rail Route 19)

StationVillage/town/city and county Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Year openedStep free accessNo. of platformsUsage 2015/16
Branches and loops
London St Pancras St Pancras, London 1868 Wheelchair symbol.svg 15Increase2.svg 31.724 High Speed 1 diverges north of St Pancras
Kentish Town Kentish Town, London18684Increase2.svg 2.844Branch from to Gospel Oak to Barking line north of station
West Hampstead Thameslink West Hampstead, London1871 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 3.710
Cricklewood Cricklewood, London18684Decrease2.svg 1.057 Dudding Hill Line diverges north of Cricklewood
Hendon Hendon, London18684Decrease2.svg 1.178 Dudding Hill Line diverges south of Hendon
Mill Hill Broadway Mill Hill, London grid reference TQ213918 18684Decrease2.svg 1.949
Elstree & Borehamwood Borehamwood, Hertfordshire 18684Decrease2.svg 3.382
Radlett Radlett, Hertfordshire grid reference TQ164998 18684Decrease2.svg 1.188
St Albans City St Albans, Hertfordshire grid reference TL155070 1868 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Decrease2.svg 7.451
Harpenden Harpenden, Hertfordshire grid reference TL137142 18684Increase2.svg 3.337
Luton Airport Parkway Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL105205 1999 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 3.188
Luton Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL092216 18685Increase2.svg 3.626
Leagrave Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL061241 18684Increase2.svg 1.915
Harlington Harlington, Bedfordshire grid reference TL034303 18684Increase2.svg 0.336
Flitwick Flitwick, Bedfordshire grid reference TL034350 18704Increase2.svg 1.480
Bedford Midland Bedford, Bedfordshire grid reference TL041497 1859 Wheelchair symbol.svg 5Increase2.svg 3.830 Marston Vale line diverges south of Bedford
Wellingborough Wellingborough, Northamptonshire grid reference SP903681 1857 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 0.969
Kettering Kettering, Northamptonshire grid reference SP863780 1857 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 1.042 Oakham–Kettering line diverges north of Kettering at Glendon Jun
via Corby & diversion route
Corby Corby, Northamptonshire grid reference SP891886 2009 Wheelchair symbol.svg 1Increase2.svg 0.278Oakham–Kettering line
Oakham Oakham, Rutland grid reference SK856090 1848 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Increase2.svg 0.213Birmingham–Peterborough line
Melton Mowbray Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire grid reference SK752187 18482Increase2.svg 0.266
Main Line via Market Harborough
Market Harborough Market Harborough, Leicestershire grid reference SP741874 1850 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Increase2.svg 0.870
Leicester Leicester, Leicestershire grid reference SK593041 1840 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 5.247 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges south of Leicester at Wigston Junction
Syston Syston, Leicestershire grid reference SK621111 1994 Wheelchair symbol.svg 1Increase2.svg 0.210 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges north of Syston
Sileby Sileby, Leicestershire grid reference SK602151 19942Increase2.svg 0.123
Barrow-upon-Soar Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire grid reference SK577172 19942Increase2.svg 0.098
Loughborough Loughborough, Leicestershire grid reference SK543204 1872 Wheelchair symbol.svg 3Decrease2.svg 1.298
East Midlands Parkway Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire (for East Midlands Airport) grid reference SK496296 2007 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4Increase2.svg 0.306Trent Junction to Clay Cross Junction via Derby (the original line), the Nottingham branch, and the Erewash Valley Line each diverge north of East Midlands Parkway
Via Derby
Long Eaton Long Eaton, Derbyshire grid reference SK481321 1888 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Decrease2.svg 0.660Cord south of Long Eaton to the Nottingham branch
Spondon Spondon, Derby, Derbyshire grid reference SK397351 1839 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Decrease2.svg 0.026
Derby Derby, Derbyshire grid reference SK362355 1839 Wheelchair symbol.svg 6Increase2.svg 3.767 Cross Country Route and Crewe to Derby Line diverges south of Derby
Duffield Duffield, Derbyshire grid reference SK345435 18413Increase2.svg 0.061
Belper Belper, Derbyshire grid reference SK348475 1840 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Increase2.svg 0.225
Ambergate Ambergate, Derbyshire grid reference SK348516 1840 Wheelchair symbol.svg 1Decrease2.svg 0.042 Derwent Valley line diverges at Ambergate Junction
Via Nottingham
Attenborough Attenborough, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK518346 1856 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Decrease2.svg 0.112
Beeston Beeston, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK533362 18392Decrease2.svg 0.574
Nottingham Midland Nottingham, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK574392 1904 Wheelchair symbol.svg 7Increase2.svg 7.200Northbound trains reverse towards Langley Mill. Others pass through the station onto the Robin Hood Line, Grantham line or Lincoln line.
Via Erewash Valley (bypassing or calling at Nottingham)
Ilkeston Ilkeston, Derbyshire2017 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2
Langley Mill Langley Mill, Derbyshire grid reference SK449470 18472Increase2.svg 0.116Erewash Valley and Trent Nottingham lines rejoin south of Langley Mill.
Alfreton Alfreton, Derbyshire grid reference SK422561 18622Increase2.svg 0.283
Clay Cross Junction to Leeds
Chesterfield Chesterfield, Derbyshire grid reference SK388714 1840 Wheelchair symbol.svg 3Increase2.svg 1.731Trent Junction to Clay Cross via Derby and Erewash Valley lines rejoin together south of Chesterfield.
Dronfield Dronfield, Derbyshire grid reference SK354784 1981 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Increase2.svg 0.200 Hope Valley line diverges north of Dronfield
Sheffield Sheffield, South Yorkshire grid reference SK358869 1870 Wheelchair symbol.svg 9Increase2.svg 9.213 Hope Valley Line diverges south of Sheffield
Sheffield to Lincoln Line diverges north of Sheffield
Meadowhall Interchange Sheffield, South Yorkshire grid reference SK390912 1990 Wheelchair symbol.svg 4 NRDecrease2.svg 2.138 Hallam and Penistone Lines diverges at Meadowhall
Via Doncaster
Doncaster Doncaster, South Yorkshire grid reference SE571032 1838 Wheelchair symbol.svg 8Increase2.svg 3.752Connects to the East Coast Main Line south of Doncaster
Bypassing Doncaster
Wakefield Westgate Wakefield, West Yorkshire grid reference SE327207 1867 Wheelchair symbol.svg 2Increase2.svg 2.519Connects with the East Coast Main Line south of Wakefield Westgate
Leeds Leeds, West Yorkshire grid reference SE299331 1938 Wheelchair symbol.svg 17Increase2.svg 29.724Leeds City lines

Tunnels, viaducts and major bridges

Major civil engineering structures on the Midland Main Line include the following. [55] [56]

Tunnels, viaducts and major bridges on the Midland Main Line
Railway StructureLengthDistance from London St Pancras International ELR Location
East Bank Tunnel80 yards (73 m)158 miles 05 chains – 158 miles 01 chainsTJC1South of Sheffield station
Bradway Tunnel1 mile 266 yards (1,853 m)153 miles 61 chains – 152 miles 49 chainsNorth of Dronfield station
Unstone Viaduct (River Drone)6 chains (120 m)149 miles 75 chains – 149 miles 69 chainsBetween Dronfield and Chesterfield stations
Former Broomhouse Tunnel
Whitting Moor Road Viaduct148 miles 45 chains
Alfreton Tunnel840 yards (770 m)135 miles 50 chains – 135 miles 11 chains (via Toton)TCC Erewash Valley Line between Alfreton and Langley Mill stations
Cromford Canal 132 miles 67 chains (via Toton)
Erewash Canal 128 miles 09 chains (via Toton)Erewash Valley Line south of Langley Mill station
Clay Cross Tunnel 1 mile 24 yards (1,631 m)147 miles 22 chains – 146 miles 21 chainsSPC8Between Chesterfield and Belper stations
River Amber140 miles 40 chains
Wingfield Tunnel261 yards (239 m)139 miles 59 chains – 139 miles 47 chains
Toadmoor Tunnel 129 yards (118 m)138 miles 12 chains – 138 miles 07 chains
River Derwent / Broadholme Viaducts6 chains (120 m),
7 chains (140 m)
136 miles 47 chains – 136 miles 41 chains, 136 miles 18 chains – 136 miles 11 chains
Swainsley Viaduct (River Derwent)4 chains (80 m)134 miles 61 chains – 134 miles 57 chainsBetween Belper and Duffield stations
Milford Tunnel 855 yards (782 m)134 miles 25 chains – 133 miles 67 chains
Burley Viaduct (River Derwent)4 chains (80 m)131 miles 58 chains – 131 miles 54 chainsBetween Duffield and Derby stations
Nottingham Road Viaduct3 chains (60 m)128 miles 43 chains – 128 miles 40 chains
River Derwent Viaduct3 chains (60 m)128 miles 06 chains – 128 miles 03 chains
Trent Viaduct11 chains (220 m)119 miles 08 chains – 118 miles 77 chainsSPC6Between Long Eaton and East Midlands Parkway station
Redhill Tunnels154 yards (141 m),
170 yards (160 m)
118 miles 74 chains – 118 miles 66 chains
River Soar112 miles 74 chainsSPC5Between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough stations
Flood openings2 chains (40 m)112 miles 60 chains – 112 miles 58 chains
Hermitage Brook Flood Openings3 chains (60 m)111 miles 41 chains – 111 miles 38 chainsSouth of Loughborough station
River Soar 109 miles 55 chainsNorth of Barrow-upon-Soar station
River Wreak 104 miles 60 chainsSouth of Sileby station
Knighton Tunnel104 yards (95 m)98 miles 07 chains – 98 miles 02 chainsSPC4South of Leicester station
Knighton Viaduct4 chains (80 m)97 miles 34 chains – 97 miles 30 chains
Wellingborough Viaducts (River Ise)6 chains (120 m)64 miles 57 chains – 64 miles 51 chainsSPC2South of Wellingborough station
Irchester Viaducts (River Nene)7 chains (140 m)63 miles 67 chains – 63 miles 60 chains
Sharnbrook Tunnel (Slow line only)1 mile 100 yards (1,701 m)60 miles 04 chains – 59 miles 00 chainsWYMBetween Wellingborough and Bedford stations
Sharnbrook Viaducts9 chains (180 m)56 miles 25 chains – 56 miles 16 chainsSPC2
Radwell Viaducts143 yards (131 m)55 miles 03 chains – 54 miles 76½ chains
Milton Ernest Viaducts8 chains (160 m)54 miles 25 chains – 54 miles 17 chains
Oakley Viaducts6 chains (120 m)53 miles 35 chains – 53 miles 29 chains
Clapham Viaducts (River Ouse)6 chains (120 m)52 miles 04 chains – 51 miles 78 chains
Bromham Viaducts (River Ouse)7 chains (140 m)50 miles 79 chains – 50 miles 72 chains
River Great Ouse Viaduct5 chains (100 m)49 miles 38 chains – 49 miles 33 chainsSPC1Between Bedford and Flitwick stations
Ampthill Tunnels 715 yards (654 m)42 miles 52 chains – 42 miles 19 chains
Hyde/Chiltern Green Viaduct (River Lea)6 chains (120 m)26 miles 72 chains – 26 miles 66 chainsSouth of Luton Airport Parkway station
Elstree Tunnels1,058 yards (967 m)12 miles 06 chains – 11 miles 38 chainsSouth of Elstree & Borehamwood station
Stoneyfield/Deans Brook Viaduct4 chains (80 m)10 miles 36 chains – 10 miles 32 chainsBetween Elstree & Borehamwood and Hendon stations
Welsh Harp/Brent Viaduct (River Brent)10 chains (200 m)6 miles 31 chains – 6 miles 21 chainsSouth of Hendon station
Belsize Slow Tunnel 1 mile 107 yards (1,707 m)3 miles 34 chains – 2 miles 29 chainsBetween West Hampstead Thameslink and Kentish Town stations
Belsize Fast Tunnel1 mile 11 yards (1,619 m)3 miles 32 chains – 2 miles 33 chains
Lismore Circus Tunnel [57] 110 yards (100 m)2 miles 22 chains – 2 miles 17 chains
Hampstead Tunnel44 yards (40 m)1 mile 76 chains – 1 mile 74 chains
Camden Road Tunnels308 yards (282 m)1 miles 13 chains – 0 miles 79 chainsSouth of Kentish Town station
Canal Tunnels 820 yards (750 m)0 miles 0 chains – 0 miles 0 chainsConnecting to ECML at Belle Island Junction

Line-side monitoring equipment

Line-side train monitoring equipment includes hot axle box detectors (HABD) and wheel impact load detectors (WILD) ‘Wheelchex’, these are located as follows. [56] [58] [55]

Line-side monitoring equipment on the Midland Main Line
Name / TypeLineLocation (distance from St. Pancras)Engineers Line Reference
Dore HABD (out of use?)Down Main154 miles 72 chainsTJC1
Belper HABD (to replace Duffield HABD)Up Main134 miles 70 chainsSPC8
Duffield Junction HABD (removal planned)Up Main132 miles 63 chains
Langley Mill HABDUp Erewash Fast, Up & Down Erewash Slow129 miles 27 chainsTCC
Loughborough HABDUp Fast, Up Slow111 miles 05 chainsSPC5
Barrow-upon-Soar HABDDown Fast, Down Slow108 miles 72 chains
Thurmaston WheelchexDown Fast, Up Fast, Up & Down Slow101 miles 78 chains
East Langton HABDDown Main, Up Main86 miles 20 chainsSPC3
Harrowden Junction HABDDown Fast, Up & Down Slow67 miles 36 chains
Oakley HABDUp Fast, Up Slow53 miles 60 chainsSPC2
Chiltern Green HABDDown Fast, Down Slow27 miles 69 chainsSPC1
Napsbury HABDUp Fast, Up Slow18 miles 00 chains

Ambergate Junction to Manchester

The complex network of road and rail around Ambergate Junction, formerly where Manchester expresses left the mainline Ambergate junction.jpg
The complex network of road and rail around Ambergate Junction, formerly where Manchester expresses left the mainline

For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway

The line was once the Midland Railway's route from London St Pancras to Manchester, branching at Ambergate Junction along the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway, now known as the Derwent Valley line. In days gone by, it featured named expresses such as The Palatine. Much later in the twentieth century, it carried the Midland Pullman.

Town/CityStation Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Ambergate Ambergate
Whatstandwell Whatstandwell
Cromford Cromford
Matlock Bath Matlock Bath
Matlock Matlock
Closed section stations
Darley Dale Darley Dale
Rowsley Rowsley
Bakewell Bakewell
Hassop Hassop
Great Longstone Great Longstone for Ashford
Monsal Dale Monsal Dale
Millers Dale Millers Dale
Blackwell Mill Blackwell Mill
Buxton Buxton
Peak Forest Peak Forest
Chapel-en-le-Frith Chapel-en-le-Frith Central
Now part of the Hope Valley line or other lines
Chinley Chinley
Bugsworth Buxworth (Now Closed)
New Mills New Mills Central
Strines Strines
Marple Marple
Romiley Romiley
Bredbury Bredbury
Brinnington Brinnington
Reddish Reddish North
Gorton Ryder Brow
Belle Vue/Gorton Belle Vue
Stockport Stockport Tiviot Dale
Manchester Manchester Central (Now Closed)

This line was closed in the 1960s between Matlock and Buxton, severing an important link between Manchester and the East Midlands, which has never been satisfactorily replaced by any mode of transport. A section of the route remains in the hands of the Peak Rail preservation group, operating between Matlock and Rowsley to the north.

Leeds to Carlisle

For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Settle–Carlisle Railway.

A geographical representation of the aborted Midland Main Line diversion through the West Riding, which would have put Bradford on a through line and provided a direct connection to Scotland. (Existing lines shown in black and the diversion in red). MidlandMainLineBradfordDiversion.JPG
A geographical representation of the aborted Midland Main Line diversion through the West Riding, which would have put Bradford on a through line and provided a direct connection to Scotland. (Existing lines shown in black and the diversion in red).
Map showing the proposed Midland line into Bradford Colne, Halifax, Holmfield & Keighley Laister Dyke, Bowling, Bradford, Low Moor & Shipley RJD 8.jpg
Map showing the proposed Midland line into Bradford

World War I prevented the Midland Railway from finishing its direct route through the West Riding to join the Settle and Carlisle (which would have cut six miles from the journey and avoided the need for reversal at Leeds).

The first part of the Midland's West Riding extension from the main line at Royston (Yorks.) to Dewsbury was opened before the war. However, the second part of the extension was not completed. This involved a viaduct at Dewsbury over the River Calder, a tunnel under Dewsbury Moor and a new approach railway into Bradford from the south at a lower level than the existing railway (a good part of which was to be in tunnel) leading into Bradford Midland (or Bradford Forster Square) station.

The 500 yards (460 m) gap between the stations at Bradford still exists. Closing it today would also need to take into account the different levels between the two Bradford stations, a task made easier in the days of electric rather than steam traction, allowing for steeper gradients than possible at the time of the Midland's proposed extension.

Two impressive viaducts remain on the completed part of the line between Royston Junction and Dewsbury as a testament to the Midland's ambition to complete a third direct Anglo-Scottish route. The line served two goods stations and provided a route for occasional express passenger trains before its eventual closure in 1968.

The failure to complete this section ended the Midland's hopes of being a serious competitor on routes to Scotland and finally put beyond all doubt that Leeds, not Bradford, would be the West Riding's principal city. Midland trains to Scotland therefore continued to call at Leeds before travelling along the Aire Valley to the Settle and Carlisle. From Carlisle they then travelled onwards via either the Glasgow and South Western or Waverley Route. In days gone by the line enjoyed named expresses such as the Thames–Clyde Express and The Waverley.

Former stations

As with most railway lines in Britain, the route used to serve far more stations than it currently does (and consequently passes close to settlements that it no longer serves). Places that the current main line used to serve include

The following on the original North Midland Railway line

See also

Notes and references

  1. Quickly the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway ran its branch line to Sheffield Wicker
  1. "East Midlands RUS Loading Gauge". Network Rail. p. 55. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  2. "East Midlands Route Study, 2016" (PDF). Network Rail.
  3. "Midland Main Line Upgrade". Network Rail. July 2022.
  4. 1 2 "Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands". Department for Transport. 22 March 2022.
  5. "The Railway between Nottingham and Derby". Stamford Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. 7 June 1839. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  6. "Midland Counties Railway". Leicester Chronicle. British Newspaper Archive. 9 May 1840. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  7. "A Midland Railway chronology>Incorporation and expansion". The Midland Railway Society. 1998. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008.
  8. 1 2 UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  9. 1 2 Leleux, Robin. A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. Volume 9. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. p. 92. ISBN   0715371657.
  10. "Opening of the Leicester and Hitchin Line". Bedfordshire Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. 9 May 1857. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  11. Davies, R.; Grant, M.D. (1984). Forgotten Railways: Chilterns and Cotswolds. Newton Abbot, Devon: David St John Thomas. ISBN   0-946537-07-0, p. 110-111.
  12. "A Midland Railway chronology>London extension". The Midland Railway Society. 1998. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008.
  13. Barnes, E. G. (1969). The Rise of the Midland Railway 1844–1874. Augustus M. Kelley, New York. p. 308.
  14. Radford, B., (1983) Midland Line Memories: a Pictorial History of the Midland Railway Main Line Between London (St Pancras) & Derby London: Bloomsbury Books
  15. Railway Magazine June 1958. p. 432.
  16. Railway Electrification. British Railways Board (Central Publicity Unit). Winter 1979. pp. 0–2, 8.
  17. "East Midlands Parkway – Our greenest station to open on 26 January" (Press release). East Midlands Trains. 14 January 2009.[ dead link ]
  18. "Midland Main Line celebrates at 125mph". Rail News. Retrieved 20 July 2017.