Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line is a major railway line in England from London to Sheffield in the north of England. The line is under the Network Rail description of Route 19;[2] it comprises the lines from London's St Pancras station via Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Chesterfield in the East Midlands.

Midland Main Line
TypeIntercity, commuter rail,
regional rail and heavy rail
SystemNational Rail
LocaleGreater London
East of England
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
TerminiLondon St Pancras
Sheffield or Nottingham
Stations35 (London to Sheffield)
OpenedStages between 1830s–1860s
OwnerNetwork Rail
Operator(s)East Midlands Railway
TransPennine Express
GB Railfreight
DB Cargo
Direct Rail Services
Derby Etches Park
Nottingham Eastcroft
Sheffield Station
Neville Hill
Rolling stockHigh Speed Trains
Class 150 Sprinter
Class 153 Super Sprinter
Class 156 Super Sprinter
Class 158 Express Sprinter
Class 170 Turbostar
Class 185 Desiro
Class 220 Voyager
Class 221 Super Voyager
Class 222 Meridian
Class 700 Desiro City
Number of tracks2–4
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gaugeW6W8,[1] planned upgrade to UIC GB+
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz AC: Mk3b (south of Bedford)
UK MS100 / MS125 (Bedford to Corby)
Operating speedMaximum 125 mph (201 km/h)
Route map
Midland Railway
 "New Road" (1870) 
Attercliffe Road
Sheffield Midland
and Ecclesall
Dore & Totley
Tapton Junction

Express passenger services on the line are operated by East Midlands Railway. The section between St Pancras and Bedford is electrified and forms the northern half of Thameslink, 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.


Midland Counties early developments

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.[3] On 5 May 1840 the section of the route from Trent Junction to Leicester was opened.[4]

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.[5] giving access to London via the Great Northern Railway from Hitchin. The Crimean War resulted in a shortage of labour and finance, and only £900,000 (equivalent to £84,330,000 in 2018)[6] was available for the construction, approximately £15,000 for each mile.[7] 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[8] and 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 £1,870,000 in 2018).[6] Through services to London were introduced in February 1858.[9]

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[10] which opened on 1 October 1868.[7] The construction of the London extension cost £9 million[11] (equivalent to £795 million in 2018).

As traffic built up, the Midland 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.[12]

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 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 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.[13]

When the Great Central Main Line closed in 1966, the Midland 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.[14] By 1983 the line had been electrified from Moorgate to Bedford, but proposals to continue electrification to Nottingham and Sheffield were not implemented.

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.[15]

Most recently 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[16] (see below).

Network Rail route strategy for freight 2007

Network Rail published a Route Utilisation Strategy for freight in 2007;[17] 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

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;[18] Network Rail started a new study in February 2008 and this was published in February 2010.[19] [20][21][22] 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[23] and 5,500 new homes planned for Kettering.[24][25]

Highlights include:[26]

  • Work related to line speed increases, removing foot crossings and replacing with footbridges
  • Various capacity enhancements for freight
  • Re-signalling of the entire route, expected to be complete by 2016 when all signalling will be controlled by the East Midlands signalling centre in Derby.[27]
  • Rebuilding Bedford and Leicester.[28]
  • Accessibility enhancements at Elstree & Borehamwood, Harpenden, Loughborough, Long Eaton, Luton and Wellingborough by 2015.[29]
  • Upgraded approach signalling (flashing yellow aspects) added at key junctions – Radlett, Harpenden and Leagrave allowing trains to traverse them at higher speeds.
  • Lengthening of platforms at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Loughborough, Long Eaton and Beeston stations as well as work related to the Thameslink Programme (see below).
  • Realignment of the track and construction of new platforms to increase the permissible speed through Market Harborough station from 60 mph to 85 mph saving between 30 – 60 seconds.
  • Electrification (below)
  • Re-doubling the Kettering to Oakham Line between Kettering North Junction and Corby as well as re-signalling to Syston Junction via Oakham. This will allow a half hourly London to Corby passenger service (from an infrastructure perspective) from December 2017, and will create additional paths for rail freight.[30][31]


On 16 July 2012, the Department for Transport announced plans to reconfigure the existing electrified section and to electrify most of the line by 2020 at an expected cost of £800 million.[32] In January 2013 Network Rail expected the electrification to cost £500 million and be undertaken in stages during Control Period 5 (April 2014 – March 2019),[33] with Bedford to Corby section electrified by 2017, Kettering to Derby and Nottingham by 2019 and Derby to Sheffield by 2020.[34]

In the Route Utilisation Strategy, Network Rail recommended the Class 801 in 10 car formations for the InterCity services,[35] two 775 metres (848 yd) freight loops south of Bedford and between Kettering and Leicester for longer and heavier freight services, additional infrastructure to accommodate additional freight and passenger train paths and also recommended an additional stop at Kettering for the semi-fast London-Sheffield service.

The electrification plan was part of the wider Electric Spine project to create an electrified route from the Port of Southampton to Sheffield and possibly Doncaster. The project planned to electrify the Varsity Line (Bedford – Oxford), the Cherwell Valley/Great Western Main Lines (Oxford/Aynho Junction – Reading) and the Reading to Basingstoke Line. The South Western Main Line between Basingstoke and Southampton would have been converted to overhead AC electrification from third rail DC power.[30]

The plans were put on hold in June 2015 by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.[36] In September 2015, the Department for Transport announced revised completion dates of 2019 for Corby and Kettering and 2023 for the line further north to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.[37][38]

On 20 July 2017, it was announced that the Kettering-Leicester-Nottingham/Derby-Sheffield electrification project had been cancelled and that bi-mode trains would be used on the route.[39]

The section of line between Clay Cross and Sheffield is planned to be electrified for HS2 by 2033 to enable classic-compatible services to reach Sheffield along the "M18/Eastern Route", this will leave an approximate 70 mile non-electrified "gap" between Kettering North Junction and Clay Cross.[40]

On 6 November 2017 it was announced that Carillion Powerlines had been awarded the contract by Network Rail for the electrification from Bedford to Kettering and Corby.[41] The contract is valued at £260m. The installation of overhead catenary is due to be completed by December 2019. A separate contract was awarded at the same time to the same company for £62m track upgrades on the same route. The first overhead line mast was installed in November 2017.[42]

On 26 February 2019 Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, announced that electrification would be extended northwards from Kettering to Market Harborough, enabling the connection of the railway to a new power supply point at Braybrooke.[43]

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.

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.[44]

Ilkeston between Nottingham and Langley Mill was opened on 2 April 2017.[45]

Two new stations are planned:

Some new stations have been proposed:

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.[52] In 1849 it begins to be mentioned regularly in newspapers such as the Derby Mercury.[53]

In 1867 the Birmingham Journal uses the term to describe the new railway running into St Pancras railway station.[54]

In 1868 the term was used to describe the Midland Railway main route from North to South through Sheffield[55] 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 in more recent times, Network Rail has restricted it in its description of Route 19[2] to the lines between St. Pancras and Chesterfield.



East Midlands Railway

The principal operator is East Midlands Railway, which operates five InterCity trains every hour from London St Pancras with two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield and one train per hour to Corby. EMR use Class 222 Meridian trains in various carriage formations for most of its InterCity services. Older 8 coach High Speed Trains are used for its Nottingham fast service as well morning/evening Leeds services.

Thameslink provides frequent, 24-hour[56] 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.[57]

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 to Leeds from Nottingham via Alfreton and Barnsley.

Other operators include TransPennine Express in the Sheffield area.

Route description

The cities, towns and villages currently 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)

Station Village/town/city and county Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Year opened Step free access No. of platforms Usage 2015/16
Branches and loops
London St Pancras St Pancras, London 1868 15 31.724 High Speed 1 diverges north of St Pancras
Kentish Town Kentish Town, London 1868 4 2.844 Branch from to Gospel Oak to Barking line north of station
West Hampstead Thameslink West Hampstead, London 1871 4 3.710
Cricklewood Cricklewood, London 1868 4 1.057 Dudding Hill Line diverges north of Cricklewood
Hendon Hendon, London 1868 4 1.178 Dudding Hill Line diverges south of Hendon
Mill Hill Broadway Mill Hill, London grid reference TQ213918 1868 4 1.949
Elstree & Borehamwood Borehamwood, Hertfordshire 1868 4 3.382
Radlett Radlett, Hertfordshire grid reference TQ164998 1868 4 1.188
St Albans City St Albans, Hertfordshire grid reference TL155070 1868 4 7.451
Harpenden Harpenden, Hertfordshire grid reference TL137142 1868 4 3.337
Luton Airport Parkway Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL105205 1999 4 3.188
Luton Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL092216 1868 5 3.626
Leagrave Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire grid reference TL061241 1868 4 1.915
Harlington Harlington, Bedfordshire grid reference TL034303 1868 4 0.336
Flitwick Flitwick, Bedfordshire grid reference TL034350 1870 4 1.480
Bedford Midland Bedford, Bedfordshire grid reference TL041497 1859 5 3.830 Marston Vale line diverges south of Bedford
Wellingborough Wellingborough, Northamptonshire grid reference SP903681 1857 3 0.969
Kettering Kettering, Northamptonshire grid reference SP863780 1857 4 1.042 Oakham–Kettering line diverges north of Kettering at Glendon Jun
via Corby & diversion route
Corby Corby, Northamptonshire grid reference SP891886 2009 1 0.278 Oakham–Kettering line
Oakham Oakham, Rutland grid reference SK856090 1848 2 0.213 Birmingham–Peterborough line
Melton Mowbray Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire grid reference SK752187 1848 2 0.266
Main Line via Market Harborough
Market Harborough Market Harborough, Leicestershire grid reference SP741874 1850 2 0.870
Leicester Leicester, Leicestershire grid reference SK593041 1840 4 5.247 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges south of Leicester at Wigston Junction
Syston Syston, Leicestershire grid reference SK621111 1994 1 0.210 Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges north of Syston
Sileby Sileby, Leicestershire grid reference SK602151 1994 2 0.123
Barrow-upon-Soar Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire grid reference SK577172 1994 2 0.098
Loughborough Loughborough, Leicestershire grid reference SK543204 1872 3 1.298
East Midlands Parkway Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire (for East Midlands Airport) grid reference SK496296 2007 4 0.306 Trent 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 2 0.660 Cord south of Long Eaton to the Nottingham branch
Spondon Spondon, Derby, Derbyshire grid reference SK397351 1839 2 0.026
Derby Derby, Derbyshire grid reference SK362355 1839 6 3.767 Cross Country Route and Crewe to Derby Line diverges south of Derby
Duffield Duffield, Derbyshire grid reference SK345435 1841 3 0.061
Belper Belper, Derbyshire grid reference SK348475 1840 2 0.225
Ambergate Ambergate, Derbyshire grid reference SK348516 1840 1 0.042 Derwent Valley line diverges at Ambergate Junction
Via Nottingham
Attenborough Attenborough, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK518346 1856 2 0.112
Beeston Beeston, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK533362 1839 2 0.574
Nottingham Midland Nottingham, Nottinghamshire grid reference SK574392 1904 7 7.200 Northbound 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, Derbyshire 2017 2
Langley Mill Langley Mill, Derbyshire grid reference SK449470 1847 2 0.116 Erewash Valley and Trent Nottingham lines rejoin south of Langley Mill.
Alfreton Alfreton, Derbyshire grid reference SK422561 1862 2 0.283
Clay Cross Junction to Leeds
Chesterfield Chesterfield, Derbyshire grid reference SK388714 1840 3 1.731 Trent Junction to Clay Cross via Derby and Erewash Valley lines rejoin together south of Chesterfield.
Dronfield Dronfield, Derbyshire grid reference SK354784 1981 2 0.200 Hope Valley line diverges north of Dronfield
Sheffield Sheffield, South Yorkshire grid reference SK358869 1870 9 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 4 NR 2.138 Hallam and Penistone Lines diverges at Meadowhall
Via Doncaster
Doncaster Doncaster, South Yorkshire grid reference SE571032 1838 8 3.752 Connects to the East Coast Main Line south of Doncaster
Bypassing Doncaster
Wakefield Westgate Wakefield, West Yorkshire grid reference SE327207 1867 2 2.519 Connects with the East Coast Main Line south of Wakefield Westgate
Leeds Leeds, West Yorkshire grid reference SE299331 1938 17 29.724 Leeds City lines

Tunnels, viaducts and major bridges

Major civil engineering structures on the Midland Main Line include the following.[58][59]

Tunnels, viaducts and major bridges on the Midland Main Line
Railway Structure Length Distance from London St Pancras International ELR Location
East Bank Tunnel 80 yards (73 m) 158 miles 05 chains – 158 miles 01 chains TJC1 South of Sheffield station
Bradway Tunnel 1 mile 266 yards (1,853 m) 153 miles 61 chains – 152 miles 49 chains North of Dronfield station
Unstone Viaduct (River Drone) 6 chains (120 m) 149 miles 75 chains – 149 miles 69 chains Between Dronfield and Chesterfield stations
Former Broomhouse Tunnel
Whitting Moor Road Viaduct 148 miles 45 chains
Alfreton Tunnel 840 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 chains SPC8 Between Chesterfield and Belper stations
River Amber 140 miles 40 chains
Wingfield Tunnel 261 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 Viaducts 6 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 chains Between 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 chains Between Duffield and Derby stations
Nottingham Road Viaduct 3 chains (60 m) 128 miles 43 chains – 128 miles 40 chains
River Derwent Viaduct 3 chains (60 m) 128 miles 06 chains – 128 miles 03 chains
Trent Viaduct 11 chains (220 m) 119 miles 08 chains – 118 miles 77 chains SPC6 Between Long Eaton and East Midlands Parkway station
Redhill Tunnels 154 yards (141 m),
170 yards (160 m)
118 miles 74 chains – 118 miles 66 chains
River Soar 112 miles 74 chains SPC5 Between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough stations
Flood openings 2 chains (40 m) 112 miles 60 chains – 112 miles 58 chains
Hermitage Brook Flood Openings 3 chains (60 m) 111 miles 41 chains – 111 miles 38 chains South of Loughborough station
River Soar 109 miles 55 chains North of Barrow-upon-Soar station
River Wreak 104 miles 60 chains South of Sileby station
Knighton Tunnel 104 yards (95 m) 98 miles 07 chains – 98 miles 02 chains SPC4 South of Leicester station
Knighton Viaduct 4 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 chains SPC2 South 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 chains WYM Between Wellingborough and Bedford stations
Sharnbrook Viaducts 9 chains (180 m) 56 miles 25 chains – 56 miles 16 chains SPC2
Radwell Viaducts 143 yards (131 m) 55 miles 03 chains – 54 miles 76½ chains
Milton Ernest Viaducts 8 chains (160 m) 54 miles 25 chains – 54 miles 17 chains
Oakley Viaducts 6 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 Viaduct 5 chains (100 m) 49 miles 38 chains – 49 miles 33 chains SPC1 Between 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 chains South of Luton Airport Parkway station
Elstree Tunnels 1,058 yards (967 m) 12 miles 06 chains – 11 miles 38 chains South of Elstree & Borehamwood station
Stoneyfield/Deans Brook Viaduct 4 chains (80 m) 10 miles 36 chains – 10 miles 32 chains Between Elstree & Borehamwood and Hendon stations
Welsh Harp/Brent Viaduct (River Brent) 10 chains (200 m) 6 miles 31 chains – 6 miles 21 chains South of Hendon station
Belsize Slow Tunnel 1 mile 107 yards (1,707 m) 3 miles 34 chains – 2 miles 29 chains Between West Hampstead Thameslink and Kentish Town stations
Belsize Fast Tunnel 1 mile 11 yards (1,619 m) 3 miles 32 chains – 2 miles 33 chains
Lismore Circus Tunnel[60] 110 yards (100 m) 2 miles 22 chains – 2 miles 17 chains
Hampstead Tunnel 44 yards (40 m) 1 mile 76 chains – 1 mile 74 chains
Camden Road Tunnels 308 yards (282 m) 1 miles 13 chains – 0 miles 79 chains South of Kentish Town station
Canal Tunnels 820 yards (750 m) 0 miles 0 chains – 0 miles 0 chains Connecting 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.[59][61][58]

Line-side monitoring equipment on the Midland Main Line
Name / Type Line Location (distance from St. Pancras) Engineers Line Reference
Dore HABD (out of use?) Down Main 154 miles 72 chains TJC1
Belper HABD (to replace Duffield HABD) Up Main 134 miles 70 chains SPC8
Duffield Junction HABD (removal planned) Up Main 132 miles 63 chains
Langley Mill HABD Up Erewash Fast, Up & Down Erewash Slow 129 miles 27 chains TCC
Loughborough HABD Up Fast, Up Slow 111 miles 05 chains SPC5
Barrow-upon-Soar HABD Down Fast, Down Slow 108 miles 72 chains
Thurmaston Wheelchex Down Fast, Up Fast, Up & Down Slow 101 miles 78 chains
East Langton HABD Down Main, Up Main 86 miles 20 chains SPC3
Harrowden Junction HABD Down Fast, Up & Down Slow 67 miles 36 chains
Oakley HABD Up Fast, Up Slow 53 miles 60 chains SPC2
Chiltern Green HABD Down Fast, Down Slow 27 miles 69 chains SPC1
Napsbury HABD Up Fast, Up Slow 18 miles 00 chains

Ambergate Junction to Manchester

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/City Station 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.

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

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" (PDF). Network Rail. p. 55. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
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