The South Yorkshire Joint Railway was a committee formed in 1903, between the Great Central Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, the Midland Railway and the North Eastern Railway to oversee the construction of a new railway in the Doncaster area of South Yorkshire, England. The five companies had equal rights over the line, each of the companies regularly working trains over it.
Passenger trains on the line ended in 1929; freight work continued on the line, with eight collieries served at peak. Most of the collieries closed by the 1990s; as of 2011, the line remains an important freight line for coal transportation both north and southwards to the Trent and Aire Valley power stations.
Parliamentary permission to build the line was authorised with the passing of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway Act on 14 August 1903, and the formation of the South Yorkshire Joint Line Committee; formed from the railway companies: NER, L&YR, GNR, MR, and GCR.The South Yorkshire Joint Railway act incorporated an earlier scheme, the Shireoaks Laughton & Maltby Railway (Act passed 9 August 1901), a venture of the GCR and MR companies.
In the grouping of 1923, the Midland and L&YR were grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), whilst the GCR, GER and GNR were all grouped into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). It thus remained an LMS-LNER joint line until nationalisation into British Railways in 1948.
The line ran from Kirk Sandall Junction on the Great Central's Doncaster – Stainforth (former South Yorkshire Railway) to join up with the Great Central and Midland Joint Railway at Dinnington junction. 21.25 miles (34.20 km) in length, including its colliery branch lines and connections to the several lines it crossed in its path. It opened to freight on 1 January 1909, and to passengers on 1 December 1910. The capital cost was almost £411,000.The NER had access over the GCR from Hull, the MR had access from the Nottingham-Worksop line, over GCR metals from Shireoaks, the L&Y joined at St. Catherine's Junction from its Dearne Valley Railway and the GNR had connections to the south of Doncaster. As opened, the SYJR was
The line opened to (eventually) serve eight collieries, Markham main, Yorkshire main, Dinnington main, Maltby main, Thurcroft and Harry Crofts. As of 2010, only Maltby colliery was still producing coal around 1.2 million tonnes pa according to the owners, Hargreave Services) but this last one closed also in March 2013. The largest amount of coal traffic originating on the line was recorded in 1929, almost 3 million tons. This was the result of the new Firbeck and Harworth collieries coming into full production and their branch lines becoming part of the SYJR. This production total produced a net revenue for the SYJR of £81k – equal to about £4.3 million in 2008 prices, an astonishing figure for a line (excluding sidings) of just under 30 miles (48 km). By the end of 1929, capital expenditure on the SYJR had reached more than £710,000.
The route used encounters hilly country, and there are 3 large viaducts, the largest being at the village of Slade Hooton one over the East Coast main line at Potteric car and the last being on the now lifted 3.5 mile Harworth Branch passing over the A631 to the west of the village of Tickhill and, a rising gradient for most of its journey. The highest point of the line is in the vicinity of Brookhouse viaduct.
Maltby signal box which controlled train entry into and out of the colliery at Maltby is still operating and is the last mechanical Great Central type 5 designed signal box left on the line (built 1912), This box is actually within the town of Doncaster's boundary – so technically the box is the last mechanical signal box still in operation within the town of Doncaster.[ original research? ]
There were three stations on the railway, these being Dinnington and Laughton, Maltby and Tickhill and Wadworth, all of them being situated away from the villages in their title. Four passenger trains each way daily were operated by the GCR and the GNR and these ran between Doncaster, over the Great Northern Main Line as far as Potteric Carr junction, and Shireoaks.Services called at all stations on the SYJR and Anston, on the Great Central and Midland Joint line. The joint passenger service operated for just one year before the GNR services were discontinued, reducing the service to two GCR trains with an extra one on Saturday. From April 1920, the service was extended to Worksop. Passenger traffic over the line was never great, with the largest total number of travellers – 60,220 – being recorded in 1913. The service became Saturdays-only in June 1917 until April 1920 but was suspended from April 1926 to July 1927 due to the 1926 general strike; this service was withdrawn altogether on 2 December 1929.
As of October 2020, the line, although only single track is an important freight only railway line now coal traffic has ceased there is very little traffic over the route but recent traffic has been the transfer to store of LNER Mk4 and DVT'S in the Up side yard at Worksop. Network rail operate their test trains over the route to and from Derby also. Route Learning locos operate and the occasional off route freight runs as well. there are plans to re-route the intermodal trains via Maltby over the South Yorkshire Joint line to the I-Port but no date has been given yet. Short spurs also connect the route with Doncaster Decoy Yard.
The Doncaster Inland Port, which is planned for construction in 2012 southeast of junction 3 of the M18 motorway, uses the line as its primary rail access point.
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