Did BR close the wrong station and line in Nottingham?

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edwin_m

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Bennerley is just a couple of miles from where I grew up. It crosses the Erewash Valley and therefore the Erewash Valley line. I recall seeing a train crossing it as a child. The nearest place likely to be on an OS gazeteer is Ilkeston. Look to the east. I suppose I am not the only person who wonders if BR closed the wrong line and station in Nottingham.
In my view no. The GC might have been a bit quicker for London and similar for Derby and Sheffield, and could have been connected to the Lincoln line in much the same way as the Grantham line was connected to Midland (but the other way round). But looking a bit further afield, if the ex-Midland lines between Derby/Nottingham/Leicester had been closed in favour of the GC, getting beyond Derby towards Birmingham was awkward and Derby-London trains would have had to run via Nottingham (and Bennerley Viaduct!). Without some quite extensive new connections it would also have left two stations in Leicester on separate routes from there to London.

As in some other parts of the country, the company that was there first had the most comprehensive set of connecting routes. The latecomers tended to be closed down as duplicates because they linked some places but not everywhere, even if their routes were sometimes better engineered.
 

RH Liner

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I think Victoria would have been the better station to retain in Nottingham. It wouldn’t have taken much to put in a link to enable MML trains to switch to the GC at Loughborough, with Derby trains remaining on the Midland. The Midland line could have been regained at Chesterfield, so there would have been one route serving Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
Current developments in Nottingham with the demolition of the Broad Marsh Centre have moved the existing Nottingham station further from the city centre.
 

gordonthemoron

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If they hadn't closed the GC in Nottingham, then Lady Bay bridge wouldn't have become a road and the traffic would be even worse
 

Dr Hoo

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I think Victoria would have been the better station to retain in Nottingham. It wouldn’t have taken much to put in a link to enable MML trains to switch to the GC at Loughborough, with Derby trains remaining on the Midland. The Midland line could have been regained at Chesterfield, so there would have been one route serving Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
Current developments in Nottingham with the demolition of the Broad Marsh Centre have moved the existing Nottingham station further from the city centre.
Are there no plans to redevelop the Broadmarsh area into something 'useful'?

(I fully get that in recent years it has become a bit of a barrier between the station and the heart of the city although the tram connection is pretty quick and easy.)
 

WesternLancer

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Are there no plans to redevelop the Broadmarsh area into something 'useful'?

(I fully get that in recent years it has become a bit of a barrier between the station and the heart of the city although the tram connection is pretty quick and easy.)
Council has set up a commission of some sort - since the below link on their site was created I think - possible that a range of options is on the table. Something will happen of course, but could be years off maybe....

from


FAQs:
No decision has been taken on this yet.

To see a major redevelopment that had been making good progress stall because of the coronavirus pandemic and intu’s administration was a major blow.

Broadmarsh is an extremely important site right at the heart of the city centre. It’s vital that we maximise its potential as part of the wider regeneration taking place in the city, bringing investment, creating jobs and improving the quality of life for local people.

It’s good that the conversation about the future of Broadmarsh has already started in the city, and we want that to continue.
 

edwin_m

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I think Victoria would have been the better station to retain in Nottingham. It wouldn’t have taken much to put in a link to enable MML trains to switch to the GC at Loughborough, with Derby trains remaining on the Midland. The Midland line could have been regained at Chesterfield, so there would have been one route serving Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
Current developments in Nottingham with the demolition of the Broad Marsh Centre have moved the existing Nottingham station further from the city centre.
A connection at Loughborough (as later built) would miss both stations, and a station with rail access to the connection would be well outside the town.

You haven't addressed my point about access towards Birmingham, probably the second most important destination from Nottingham, which would require a whole series of slow junctions between Derby and Burton.

When it was functioning, the Broad Marsh and its traffic gyratory made the station further from the city centre in time (due to road crossing times) and perception (due to it being horrible) if not in actual distance. Removing the through traffic will make this much better and whatever they do with the remains of the shopping centre will probably be a major improvement.

If Victoria was still a station then the Victoria Centre wouldn't have been built, removing the main reason to visit that part of the city centre, so the centre of activity would have been closer to Midland. Or the station might have ended up as a smaller and even more claustrophobic version of New Street.
 

mailbyrail

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Lady Bay was on the direct Midland line via Melton Mowbray, nothing to do with the GC and access to Victoria
 

O L Leigh

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Not sure Marylebone would have coped with all the East Midlands traffic on top of everything it currently deals with, nor that it's approaches could have been as easily upgraded to provide the necessary capacity.
 
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Many years ago, I worked with a man who had worked in the Nottingham Divisional Manager's Office prior to spring 1966, and I remember him telling me that the possibility of connecting the MML to the Derby Friargate - Nottingham Victoria line was once considered as a way to relieving pressure at Trent; the location of a connection at Derby was obvious, but I can't remember him explaining where the connection would have been at the Nottingham end, but there was an implication in the way he talked that trains would have used Midland and not Victoria.

There was also an article in Modern Railways - possibly it was still called Trains Illustrated at the time - regarding plans for the GC Main Line after the expresses were withdrawn in 1960, and I recall it talked about building new connections and using it primarily for express parcels trains; certainly, pre-Beeching there didn't seem to be any plans to completely close the line. And didn't the original proposals for the [Nottingham] Victoria Shopping Centre include a twin track tunnel on (I think) the east side of the site?

Back in about 1960, Trains Illustrated/Modern Railways reported that when the Marylebone suburban services were being recast when the class 115 DMUs arrived, some Aylesbury services were going to be extended north to Woodford Halse; did that happen? Apart from the daily return Nottingham semi-fast, I can't remember seeing any photos of 115s north of Aylesbury, with the stoppers north of Aylesbury remaining steam hauled until their withdrawal.

If I get the opportunity over the next few days I'll try and find the relevant article about BR's 1960ish plans for the GC Main Line; but certainly, it wasn't envisaged that it would close completely

Not sure Marylebone would have coped with all the East Midlands traffic on top of everything it currently deals with, nor that it's approaches could have been as easily upgraded to provide the necessary capacity.
Regarding the actual station, Marylebone had four platforms, and two could have been added where the cab road was, as has actually happened; land on the west side of the station was also owned by BR and occupied by office blocks, so there was some scope for expansion.

I think you make a valid comment about the approaches
 
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edwin_m

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Many years ago, I worked with a man who had worked in the Nottingham Divisional Manager's Office prior to spring 1966, and I remember him telling me that the possibility of connecting the MML to the Derby Friargate - Nottingham Victoria line was once considered as a way to relieving pressure at Trent; the location of a connection at Derby was obvious, but I can't remember him explaining where the connection would have been at the Nottingham end, but there was an implication in the way he talked that trains would have used Midland and not Victoria.

There was also an article in Modern Railways - possibly it was still called Trains Illustrated at the time - regarding plans for the GC Main Line after the expresses were withdrawn in 1960, and I recall it talked about building new connections and using it primarily for express parcels trains; certainly, pre-Beeching there didn't seem to be any plans to completely close the line. And didn't the original proposals for the [Nottingham] Victoria Shopping Centre include a twin track tunnel on (I think) the east side of the site?

Back in about 1960, Trains Illustrated/Modern Railways reported that when the Marylebone suburban services were being recast when the class 115 DMUs arrived, some Aylesbury services were going to be extended north to Woodford Halse; did that happen? Apart from the daily return Nottingham semi-fast, I can't remember seeing any photos of 115s north of Aylesbury, with the stoppers north of Aylesbury remaining steam hauled until their withdrawal.

If I get the opportunity over the next few days I'll try and find the relevant article about BR's 1960ish plans for the GC Main Line; but certainly, it wasn't envisaged that it would close completely


Regarding the actual station, Marylebone had four platforms, and two could have been added where the cab road was, as has actually happened; land on the west side of the station was also owned by BR and occupied by office blocks, so there was some scope for expansion.

I think you make a valid comment about the approaches
The only way I can think of to connect Nottingham would have been to link the ex-Midland and ex-GN lines in the Kimberley area, which would have allowed trains off the GN to come in via Radford.

In the early 60s BR didn't anticipate how freight would plummet in the next few years, and the mindset was to provide extra facilities such as marshalling yards to handle traffic that quickly disappeared. I suspect the plans for the the GC were part of this.
 

RT4038

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Back in about 1960, Trains Illustrated/Modern Railways reported that when the Marylebone suburban services were being recast when the class 115 DMUs arrived, some Aylesbury services were going to be extended north to Woodford Halse; did that happen? Apart from the daily return Nottingham semi-fast, I can't remember seeing any photos of 115s north of Aylesbury, with the stoppers north of Aylesbury remaining steam hauled until their withdrawal.
I believe there was some DMU working, for a short period , of Marylebone-Brackley train(s) of which there were a few. Not sure if these disappeared with the GC intermediate stations north of Aylesbury, or at a later date, but they certainly weren't operating in the last couple of years of the line.
 

Merle Haggard

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I had a brake van pass for Colwick - Burton via the GN route in 1967-8.
This was after the closure of Victoria and I remember that it used a double track route through the extreme eastern-most side of the station. Building work on the Victoria centre had, I think, started - there were piles of rubble where the platforms had been and of course it was pitch dark - and I formed the opinion that these tracks had been relaid to a new alignment, possibly over the position of former platforms, to clear as much space in the former station as possible. Coming from Weekday Cross, we executed a sharp S bend ( a little fast!) to the right just before reaching the station. Perhaps this was intended to remain after the Victoria Centre was built.
The train was a full load of 16t Mins hauled by 2xCl25s, and did not make any intermediate calls. Presumably it was routed via the G.N. to reduce congestion at Trent, and it ran through to the former Midland Railway yard at Burton.
 

jfowkes

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If they hadn't closed the GC in Nottingham, then Lady Bay bridge wouldn't have become a road and the traffic would be even worse
The GC didn't use Lady Bay Bridge though, that was the line out to Melton, which was part of the Midland Railway.
 
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The only way I can think of to connect Nottingham would have been to link the ex-Midland and ex-GN lines in the Kimberley area, which would have allowed trains off the GN to come in via Radford.

I'd wondered about where the GNR crossed over the MR near to where the Highbury Vale tram stop now is - wasn't the ex MR line from the Erewash across to Bulwell already closed at it eastern end by the time the guy was talking about? (I didn't know the area on the Notts side of the Erewash before Shilo Way and the A610 was opened, so I've never seen exactly where the ex GNR and MR lines were located)
 

Greybeard33

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As in some other parts of the country, the company that was there first had the most comprehensive set of connecting routes. The latecomers tended to be closed down as duplicates because they linked some places but not everywhere, even if their routes were sometimes better engineered.
Indeed. And the "better engineered" GC line penetrated Nottingham by means of a succession of viaducts, earthworks and tunnels that were costly to maintain, whereas the earlier Midland lines worked "with the grain" of the landscape rather than blasting through it. Also the GC line was not well integrated with the earlier GN lines around Nottingham. For example, the GN Grantham line was aligned with the Midland station and needed an awkward climbing chord to get to Victoria via London Road High Level - the GN only built this chord because it was in alliance with the GC against the Midland.

I lived in Nottingham at the time Victoria was closed. The long distance services on the GC line had been systematically run down since the line was transferred from the Eastern region to the London Midland region in the late 1950s. Consequently the Midland had become the main Nottingham station, with expresses to London using the (subsequently closed) Melton Mowbray - Oakham - Corby route. By the mid-1960s, it would have been a major upheaval to transfer services to Victoria.

Ironically, the construction of the Victoria Centre on the old station site pulled the "centre of gravity" of the city further away from the Midland station!
 

WesternLancer

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Ironically, the construction of the Victoria Centre on the old station site pulled the "centre of gravity" of the city further away from the Midland station!
Yes, on your last point that is a good point, esp as retail became ever more dominant in the consumer age. Although on speaking to a longstanding Nottm person not so long ago they made the point that Parliament Street - with the large co-op dept store at one end and shops along its length, was something of a retail 'High Street' that was close to Victoria Station and thus city retail. I wondered if you would agree with that? I assume all the main 'big stores' were thus already north of Market Square - ie the original Jessops/John Lewis, Griffin and Spalding (Debenhams), and Pearsons (latterly Habitat site) - but I suppose apart from Co-op most closer to Market Square than the pull of the Victoria Centre then created.

Interesting that only over last year or two the work to restore nearly all the buildings along Carrington Street from Midland Station, part funded by Historic England and others I think, up towards the (now disaster area Broadmarsh) will mean that a half decent approach to the city centre from the station will be recreated I think. Redevelop / get rid of the remains of Broadmarsh and there is a real opportunity for a step change axis for the better.
 

edwin_m

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I'd wondered about where the GNR crossed over the MR near to where the Highbury Vale tram stop now is - wasn't the ex MR line from the Erewash across to Bulwell already closed at it eastern end by the time the guy was talking about? (I didn't know the area on the Notts side of the Erewash before Shilo Way and the A610 was opened, so I've never seen exactly where the ex GNR and MR lines were located)
Looking at old maps that area does appear to have been undeveloped, so a connection would be possible although complicated by the proximity to the river Leen. There was also a rail connection to Cinderhill Colliery (now the NET Phoenix Park branch) but the GN line also appears to have connected the same place so it could probably have been removed. The area I was thinking of was further west between Cinderhill and Awsworth where the Midland line to Bennerley and the GN ran parallel and close together.
 

Greybeard33

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Yes, on your last point that is a good point, esp as retail became ever more dominant in the consumer age. Although on speaking to a longstanding Nottm person not so long ago they made the point that Parliament Street - with the large co-op dept store at one end and shops along its length, was something of a retail 'High Street' that was close to Victoria Station and thus city retail. I wondered if you would agree with that? I assume all the main 'big stores' were thus already north of Market Square - ie the original Jessops/John Lewis, Griffin and Spalding (Debenhams), and Pearsons (latterly Habitat site) - but I suppose apart from Co-op most closer to Market Square than the pull of the Victoria Centre then created.

Interesting that only over last year or two the work to restore nearly all the buildings along Carrington Street from Midland Station, part funded by Historic England and others I think, up towards the (now disaster area Broadmarsh) will mean that a half decent approach to the city centre from the station will be recreated I think. Redevelop / get rid of the remains of Broadmarsh and there is a real opportunity for a step change axis for the better.
Yes, I remember the city centre in the early 1960s being much as you describe. I think the Co-op was the only large shop on the north side of Upper Parliament Street, at the Derby Road end. IIRC some of the other department stores had entrances both from Upper Parliament Street and from Long Row to the south. So I viewed the Old Market Square/Long Row as the retail centre, rather than Parliament Street, which was more of a thoroughfare. There was a covered market to the east, behind the Council House, and important smaller shops to the south, down Wheeler Gate and in the Low Pavement/High Pavement area. I particularly remember Redmayne & Todd's sports and toy shop on the corner of Carrington Street and Canal Street - well on the way to the Midland Station. This was before construction of the Broadmarsh Centre.

Victoria Station was more in the commercial district. My father used to work in an office building on the opposite side of Milton Street.
I'd wondered about where the GNR crossed over the MR near to where the Highbury Vale tram stop now is - wasn't the ex MR line from the Erewash across to Bulwell already closed at it eastern end by the time the guy was talking about? (I didn't know the area on the Notts side of the Erewash before Shilo Way and the A610 was opened, so I've never seen exactly where the ex GNR and MR lines were located)
I think a chord at Highbury Vale might have been feasible, although I cannot remember the height difference between the two lines. The NET tram line follows the alignment of what was a branch to Cinderhill Colliery at that time, with the ex-GN line crossing just to the north. Such a chord would have enabled services between Derby Friargate and Nottingham Midland.

The ex-LMS and ex-LNER lines around Nottingham were still very much segregated networks. The only connection I can recall was between the Grantham and Newark lines at Colwick.
 

Merle Haggard

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The ex-LMS and ex-LNER lines around Nottingham were still very much segregated networks. The only connection I can recall was between the Grantham and Newark lines at Colwick.


And, I think, that connection was only put in around 1962-3 - a railtour I was on in 1966 used it, and it still looked very new then. Can't remember its name, but it was regarded as an amazing innovation at the time.
 

edwin_m

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And, I think, that connection was only put in around 1962-3 - a railtour I was on in 1966 used it, and it still looked very new then. Can't remember its name, but it was regarded as an amazing innovation at the time.
As first built the Grantham line joined the Lincoln line at Netherfield Junction as it does today, running into the Midland's station. After a bust-up between the two companies the GN extended to London Road Low Level on its own alignment.
 

Bevan Price

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In my view no. The GC might have been a bit quicker for London and similar for Derby and Sheffield, and could have been connected to the Lincoln line in much the same way as the Grantham line was connected to Midland (but the other way round). But looking a bit further afield, if the ex-Midland lines between Derby/Nottingham/Leicester had been closed in favour of the GC, getting beyond Derby towards Birmingham was awkward and Derby-London trains would have had to run via Nottingham (and Bennerley Viaduct!). Without some quite extensive new connections it would also have left two stations in Leicester on separate routes from there to London.

As in some other parts of the country, the company that was there first had the most comprehensive set of connecting routes. The latecomers tended to be closed down as duplicates because they linked some places but not everywhere, even if their routes were sometimes better engineered.
Access to the Birmingham line was easy, and existed before Beeching / Marples. The Line from Nottingham Victoria continued beyond Derby Friargate to Egginton Jn, and then via a North Staffordshire line to Burton On Trent. It would have been less suitable for fast services than the Midland route, but would have avoided the time wasted by having to reverse in Derby Midland.

As far as Egginton Jn, it was used for summer saturday services from Nottingham Victoria to Stoke & North Wales. It had also been used for services to the long-closed GNR/LNER line from Uttoxeter to Stafford.
 

midland1

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There were some DMU workings right through from Marylebone to Nottingham, there is photo evidence of it in a few books. Just another way to run the service down, running non-corridor no toilet trains.
 

Gloster

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I have a vague recollection of reading that there was only one Marylebone-Nottingham return working that was DMU worked. This used a set between the peaks, going out just after the morning one and coming back after midday.
 

WesternLancer

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Yes, I remember the city centre in the early 1960s being much as you describe. I think the Co-op was the only large shop on the north side of Upper Parliament Street, at the Derby Road end. IIRC some of the other department stores had entrances both from Upper Parliament Street and from Long Row to the south. So I viewed the Old Market Square/Long Row as the retail centre, rather than Parliament Street, which was more of a thoroughfare. There was a covered market to the east, behind the Council House, and important smaller shops to the south, down Wheeler Gate and in the Low Pavement/High Pavement area. I particularly remember Redmayne & Todd's sports and toy shop on the corner of Carrington Street and Canal Street - well on the way to the Midland Station. This was before construction of the Broadmarsh Centre.

Victoria Station was more in the commercial district. My father used to work in an office building on the opposite side of Milton Street.

I think a chord at Highbury Vale might have been feasible, although I cannot remember the height difference between the two lines. The NET tram line follows the alignment of what was a branch to Cinderhill Colliery at that time, with the ex-GN line crossing just to the north. Such a chord would have enabled services between Derby Friargate and Nottingham Midland.

The ex-LMS and ex-LNER lines around Nottingham were still very much segregated networks. The only connection I can recall was between the Grantham and Newark lines at Colwick.
Thanks - interesting to read your recollections and analysis.
 

Greybeard33

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And, I think, that connection was only put in around 1962-3 - a railtour I was on in 1966 used it, and it still looked very new then. Can't remember its name, but it was regarded as an amazing innovation at the time.
As first built the Grantham line joined the Lincoln line at Netherfield Junction as it does today, running into the Midland's station. After a bust-up between the two companies the GN extended to London Road Low Level on its own alignment.
Yes, I believe the Netherfield connection was only restored in the 1960s, as a precondition for the closure of Victoria. It was an annoyance to the locals at the time, because the Midland line had a level crossing over Colwick Road, which was closed more frequently once the Grantham trains were diverted that way. The road has since been diverted along part of the GN alignment, thereby avoiding the level crossing.

The 1914 Railway Clearing House map shows a Midland - GN connection at Sneinton, just east of London Road Low Level, via an exchange siding (reversal required). I think that might have survived into the BR era. London Road Low Level remained in use as a goods station into the 1970s.

IMO the first decade of BR was a missed opportunity to drive culture change through the disparate organisations inherited from the Big Four, and create a truly integrated national railway network. I can remember the ER and LMR advertising their rival expresses from Nottingham to London as though they were still competing private companies. Even when rationalisation eventually did occur, middle management too often regarded it as an exercise in screwing over a competitor (e.g. Midland vs GC/GN), rather than an opportunity to integrate the best parts of duplicated networks and share best practice.
 

RT4038

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There were some DMU workings right through from Marylebone to Nottingham, there is photo evidence of it in a few books. Just another way to run the service down, running non-corridor no toilet trains.
This return trip to Nottingham was already acknowledged in post #10. I don't think that it made much difference to patronage, which was already at a very low ebb. There are tales that the afternoon steam departures from Marylebone sometimes left with no passengers at all!
 

edwin_m

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Access to the Birmingham line was easy, and existed before Beeching / Marples. The Line from Nottingham Victoria continued beyond Derby Friargate to Egginton Jn, and then via a North Staffordshire line to Burton On Trent. It would have been less suitable for fast services than the Midland route, but would have avoided the time wasted by having to reverse in Derby Midland.

As far as Egginton Jn, it was used for summer saturday services from Nottingham Victoria to Stoke & North Wales. It had also been used for services to the long-closed GNR/LNER line from Uttoxeter to Stafford.
Unless Derby-London services took the indirect route from Friargate via Nottingham (Victoria), this means of reducing to one station in Nottingham would have involved keeping two in Derby.
 

Bevan Price

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Unless Derby-London services took the indirect route from Friargate via Nottingham (Victoria), this means of reducing to one station in Nottingham would have involved keeping two in Derby.
I think that all options would have involved keeping Derby Midland, even if Friargate had remained open for direct Nottingham Victoria to Birmingham services. There was no easy option for providing a Derby Friargate to Sheffield service except with a slow, messy & indirect reversal at Nottingham Victoria.
 

Merthyr Imp

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The Line from Nottingham Victoria continued beyond Derby Friargate to Egginton Jn, and then via a North Staffordshire line to Burton On Trent. It would have been less suitable for fast services than the Midland route, but would have avoided the time wasted by having to reverse in Derby Midland.
It was possible to use the Chaddesden Loop to avoid reversal at Derby Midland.
 
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