Woodhead Line - plans to rebuild as a preserved/heritage line?

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by Zerachiel76, 18 Apr 2015.

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  1. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    Considering the amount of preserved/heritage lines and the interest there is in the Woodhead Line does anyone know of any plans to re-lay part of the line and run it as a private heritage line.

    I know that there is a group http://savethewoodheadtunnel.blogspot.co.uk which intends to reopen the whole line but I'm not sure how realistic their plans are.

    I'm thinking there would be sufficient interest in the line to be able to recreate and reopen a small part of it as a private venture and this would be far easier than recreating the entire line.
     
  2. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Unfortunately, the National Grid has been allowed to put high voltage cables through the "new" Woodhead tunnel, so they would either have to pay a lot to reroute those cables, or pay even more to build a new tunnel.

    Reopening Penistone to Sheffield Victoria might be an easier option.
     
  3. Haydn1971

    Haydn1971 Established Member

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    That would require the re-routing of the trans-pennine-trail - but I'm warming to the idea of a new route running from Deepcar to Killamarsh via Sheffield Victoria - with potential for new stops along the way, at places like Waverley (Orgreave), Tram Depot, Oughtibridge all using existing track, perhaps even interfacing onto the Attercliffe line to Meadowhall (HS2) and down to Dronfield via Midland... All with cheap D-Trains or similar to create a Metro service in Sheffield - biggest barrier over than cost would perhaps be the constraint to the north of Midland Station - new bore parallel tunnel perhaps ?
     
  4. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    Thanks for your replies and yes I wasn't envisioning opening the tunnels (unfortunately) but thought about opening either Penistone to Dunford Bridge or Hadfield to Woodhead (or both) as private Heritage lines to encourage tourism and visitors to the area in the same way as the North York Moors railway or Keighly and Worth Valley railway.

    I'm thinking that this would be easier than trying to come to an agreement with National Grid to reopen the tunnel. Personally and with regret I think re-opening the tunnels is a pipe dream which will never happen. However opening some of the Woodhead route is far more likely although it would face some challenges too.
     
  5. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Two other points I have thought about regarding heritage railways.

    1. They need volunteers to operate them and maintain the track, locos. & coaching stock. As the nearby areas already have heritage railways, and some struggle to find enough competent volunteers - would any new railway be able to get enough volunteers ?

    2. Steam traction attracts a lot more "non-enthusiast" custom than "modern" traction. But the "Barry" dump has been cleared, and other heritage lines rarely have enough working locos to meet their own needs (apart from occasional short term loans for gala days, etc.). So, where would a new line obtain enough locos to operate a regular steam service ?
     
  6. Ploughman

    Ploughman Established Member

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    Would it be an opportunity for a couple of landlocked Heritage sites, with no prospect of ever expanding, to amalgamate and develop a site with larger prospects?
     
  7. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    Great points but I'd hope that if this pipe dream were taken seriously then the idea would be put to the Woodhead Line groups already in existence to see if enough volunteers were available.

    The engine question is a big problem unless it didn't run Steam locos. It's possible that the Great Central Railway Heritage line could be persuaded to loan/sell an engine after all the Woodhead Line was part of the Great Central Railway. They do have a reasonably hefty list of rolling stock.

    Alternatively and I'm certainly no economist but maybe it could run on 1500V like it did back in the day? After all there is a nearby National Grid power source at Woodhead ;) Of course there is the problem of getting a suitable loco since the only surviving Class 76 is in the NRM in York.

    Finally there is the option of using diesels. Diesels were used on the Woodhead during power failures or unit failures so it could be an option to try to locate a preserved example of a Diesel which was historically used on the Woodhead and use this at least in the beginning.

    Good idea but I don't know if any of them would be willing to do this.
     
  8. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    There are a couple of preserved class 77s, however. Though we do have several preserved tramways around the country, these are electrified at a lower voltage and at the present time a fully electrified preserved railway in the UK is basically unprecedented. I wouldn't be surprised if the expanded safety case required for volunteer operation around live OHLE would be enough on its' own to scare off most willing to even consider such a notion, let alone the practicalities (and financial implications) of maintaining several miles of overhead line equipment.

    Plus, as Bevan Price sensibly states, by not operating steam locos you are likely to lose a substantial portion of the general leisure market, which makes up a fair proportion of the custom of a typical preserved railway.

    With no access to the Woodhead tunnels, I feel that the opportunities for a preservation attempt over a section the Woodhead route are quite limited. Either of the two primary options (Hadfield to Woodhead, or Penistone to Dunford Bridge) would by necessity be short in length - not really long enough to give a suitable run for mainline locomotives or offer an immersive heritage "experience" - and as far as I can tell, on the western portion between Hadfield and Woodhead, which in my opinion is the more scenically notable stretch, there isn't really anywhere that offers the space for maintenance and stabling facilities (There'd be a bit more space available at Dunford Bridge). It's a pleasant fantasy to think that such a preservation effort could extend back to the site of the former steam centre at Dinting, but as this would require access to Network Rail metals there's limited chance of it being anything more than that: While there is a precedent here with the extension of running powers to the NYMR over the Grosmont to Whitby section of the Esk Valley line, the frequency of Northern Rail trains between Dinting and Hadfield is somewhat higher.

    Added to this is that either branch, west or east of the Woodhead tunnels, doesn't really "go" anywhere: There isn't anything with a particular tourist draw at the far end of the line that merits making the journey in the first place. This is where lines like the North York Moors, Severn Valley and West Somerset Railways really excel (with Pickering/Whitby, Bridgnorth and Minehead respectively) as well as in terms of their length of journey. I suppose that some lines have managed to make a "go-er" of it irrespective of this criterion: Who really wants to end up in Loughborough, for example? ;)
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2015
  9. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    Unfortunately I fear you're right on all points. In my "dreamland" I envisaged people coming to see the beautiful landscape in the Woodhead Valley being pulled by an engine which brings back the memories of the wonderful route that it used to be.

    I had visions of people parking at Woodhead or Hadfield (since I'm on that side of the tunnels) and taking a return journey up the line and back again. It certainly wouldn't hurt tourism in the area.

    However I suspect it will remain a pipe dream for all the reasons you've said.:cry:
     
  10. simple simon

    simple simon Member

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    I thought that HS3 will travel via Woodhead?

    Simon
     
  11. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    I didn't know there were plans for HS3 yet? They can't decide on HS2 so I'm surprised they're planning HS3?:shock:
     
  12. D6975

    D6975 Established Member

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    You missed off the KWVR with its captive 'Bronte' visitors. Only a shortish line, but all those tourists really help. Also the Torbay with its holidaymakers.
    And as for Loughborough, ever been to North Tyneside or Middleton?
     
  13. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Granted I wasn't going for a comprehensive listing. ;)

    Never visited the Middleton Railway, but hailing from the north east myself originally I certainly know what you mean regarding the North Tyneside Steam Railway.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    There's been audible noises being made regarding a high speed Transpennine link for a year or so now. Election coming up and all that. This is just a Wikipedia link, but it gives you a flavour of what has been proposed:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_3

    Suffice to say that it has been discussed in some detail elsewhere on this forum, but I suspect that the most we'll end up seeing will be a 125mph upgrade of the Transpennine North route, with shortish sections of new build, rather than a full-blown "HS3".
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I agree that it's certainly a nice idea. There just seem to be a fair few limiting practicalities, in my humble opinion.
     
  14. dakta

    dakta Member

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    Might sound daft (and it might actually be daft) but what about a narrow gauge line (say woodhead to hadfield).

    Just thinking because you can have your steam, you reduce the costs overall, you reduce problems with storage and maintenance space, the transpennine trail can (in most places) co-exist, and the project could be propelled better (i.e you can get an operational and revenue earning section in place much faster and cheaper) the only people you really likely to upset are equestrian users as they'd no doubt lose the part of the trail they use.

    It still wouldn't be cheap, but its a brilliant peice of countryside to enjoy such a thing, and a ng railway would survive low or fluctuating levels of customers and volunteers much more easily.

    What got me thinking about this was, walking the route recently, the trail is wide enough to accomodate both in a lot of places IMHO (and thats not a professional opinion).

    The road that crosses about a mile from hadfield might be an issue, but it'd be an issue anyway with a standard guage effort.

    Probably a whole bunch of impracticalities with this too, but would be quite a bit more viable, whilst at the same time protecting a bit of the route just in case you can do something 'bigger' someday.
     
    Last edited: 23 Apr 2015
  15. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Member

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    The idea of a narrow gauge line on a former standard gauge route seems to have worked ok at Bala, Launceston, Kirklees and Bure Valley.
     
  16. dakta

    dakta Member

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    Yeah, i'm being cautious with the suggestion because the idea of a narrow gauge on a former line might be seen as offensive :lol:


    Could it work? I've no idea. If it appeared i'd be a regular visitor (though my fitness would suffer)
     
  17. Zerachiel76

    Zerachiel76 Member

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    Sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Would the costs of the engine be lower with a narrow gauge? I don't know much about them you see so excuse my ignorance. In any case I don't think the idea is offensive. Better a narrow gauge than no railway at all in my opinion. :D

    I think it would do wonders for the local communities. Tourism and the like. I just wish we could get more people behind the idea.
     
  18. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    That doesn't sound like a bad idea: I think there's parallels to be drawn there with the South Tynedale Railway in the north Pennines, and it seems to be working for them.
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2015
  19. dakta

    dakta Member

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    There's a lot of narrow gauge lines built on the bed of old railways, i think the woodhead route would be brilliant because it's so scenic, though whether it'd be viable is another kettle of fish!

    It'd be a heck of a lot easier to argue a case for a narrow gauge stretch than a standard gauge stretch though
     
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