Woodhead - So why did it close?

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Nick

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Acording to one Richard Beeching's map produced in the 'Reshaping of British Railways' The Woodhead route from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield Victoria and onto Woodhouse Junction (splits with the Retford line and onto the London Extension to Marylebone) was to stay open, including the large Wath Yard.

Also in Mr. Beechings map, the Penistone Line from Huddersfield to Penistone was suppose to close along with the Hope Valley route from Sheffield to Stockport.

See http://www.piccadillypilot.co.uk/beeching/report1/maps/Map09-1.htm

So why did things not work out as Beeching had wanted? Why did Woodhead close, why did the Hope Valley stay?
 
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yorkie

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I'm not sure of the history behind it but some possible factors:-

1. Lack of capacity between Piccadilly and Guide Bridge?

2. If the route was to remain open for through services beyond Manchester, then they conflict with all other traffic on the eastern approaches to Piccadilly?

3. It meant Sheffield Victoria could be closed and all services concentrated on one station in Sheffield?

4. Possibly lower line speeds?

5. Perhaps the track and/or signalling was due for major renewal?

The above is just speculation really.

Of course today both routes would be very valuable.
 

David

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IIRC, the route closed for the following reasons.

1. Different OHLE compared to the rest of the WCML. (IE 1500v DC over Woodhead vs 25kv AC on the rest of the WCML)
2. Non-standard locos being used on the route
3. All the OHLE was completely worn out as well as the locos, and BR at the time couldn't afford to replace it.
 

Nick

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Thanks for that Dave. Its odd, the Woodhead line was infact 20minutes quicker than the *other* route to Manchester, capacity is not that much of a problem for Woodhead since it only needs the two eastern lines for a few hundred yards before Ardwick Junction.

1. Different OHLE compared to the rest of the WCML. (IE 1500v DC over Woodhead vs 25kv AC on the rest of the WCML)

Yet they were happy to fit 25kv to Hadfield and Piccadilly

2. Non-standard locos being used on the route

Class 90's or 86's/87's could of been used :(

3. All the OHLE was completely worn out as well as the locos, and BR at the time couldn't afford to replace it.

I think that is the likely answer, the Woodhead line had soldiered on without investment since electrification.


Interesting point. Just 20miles of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshires line from Manchester to Sheffield and Woodhouse Junction is missing. Time for me to write my article!
 

Tomnick

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I think the main issue was replacing the existing OHLE in the tunnel itself - for some reason (structural, I think) this would be very expensive, while the Glossop/Hadfield electrification was relatively cheap. I suspect maybe the reason for the Hope Valley remaining open instead, would be, as Yorkie suggested, the ability to concentrate services on Midland station.
 

heart-of-wessex

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So was that old viaduct-bridge thing before ardwick the old Woodhead line? ive seen it a few times of the train and walking to Ardwick...
 

yorkie

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I'm not convinced that 'non standard OHLE' was the reason.

After all, the Hope valley had no OHLE, so if Woodhead was de-electrified then there wouldn't be any difference there.

As for capacity, you are right to some extent but those tracks are saturated even if it would have only been for a short section, and for through trains crossing all other lines is a pain. A flyover is needed now let alone if Woodhead reopened.

But yes I'll stick with concentrating services on Sheffield (Midland - as it was) and closing Victoria.

Still, it should not have happened.

Another possible reason: it allowed the closure of Matlock-Buxton, as without that and the hope valley there would have been no suitable diversionary London to Manchester route when the WCML was closed. :?:
 

Nick

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Yorkie, it's interesting that the idea to focus on Midland, there is acess from Victoria to Midland via the Nunnery Curve, Retford trains use it.

Woodhead could be very easily re-opened, the majority of structures are sound, and the few bridges that are out could easily be replaced. Woodhead route would then use the 'new bores' with the Gas Mains re-route via one of the old bores. OHLE could be installed from the outset and double tracking from Dinting to Darnall would be needed.

Most stations are out and are also in need of replacement. Sheffield Victoria could be rebuilt as a small two island station "ont t'other side o' Sheffield" and follow the Nunnery curve to Sheffield Midland. Not only would 20 minutes be saved, but a useful diversionary route would be created.
 

yorkie

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The problem is that the Government now wants to reduce rail subsidy, as the railways are now costing us too much, so it will never[1] happen. :cry:

You see, in the last few years we've built many trains that are rather expensive to run and maintain. They are heavier, lower in capacity, damage the track more, the aircon is expensive, I could go on...

Then there's Health and Safety. These days many lines have to be totally closed during engineering works, for example where you have 4 track sections and one of the middle tracks needs to be maintained and the distance been affected and adjacent tracks is now considered too small to permit trains to run on them. There's all sorts of other H&S issues that cause lines to be closed. Of course, in their risk assessment they don't factor into the equation the effect of people abandoning the rails for the roads!

Privatisation as a whole costs us a lot of money, but I'm not going to go into that at this hour...

[1] Well I can't see it happening but if the industry gets a grip on costs and we got a more left-wing government, then who knows?
 

Tomnick

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Nick said:
Yorkie, it's interesting that the idea to focus on Midland, there is acess from Victoria to Midland via the Nunnery Curve, Retford trains use it.
Nunnery Curve doesn't gave access to Victoria station - trains from Retford curve left at Woodburn Junction towards Nunnery ML Junction, with the line straight ahead (Stocksbridge branch; formerly 'Woodhead route') going through the site of Victoria station. Trains from Midland to Victoria would have to reverse at Woodburn Junction.
 
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