Hope Valley Line

History of the Hope Valley Line

In 1872 the only route from Sheffield to Manchester was via Ambergate. It was recognised that a more direct line was needed, and a route was planned from Dore to Chinley, which would connect to existing infrastructure.

The Dore & Chinley Railway Company was formed in 1872, however they were unsuccessful in getting the venture from the planning stage. In the early 1880’s the Midland Railway took an interest and in 1884 the line was authorised.

Construction on the 21 mile (34km) line started in 1888, and would take 6 years to complete. At each end of the line were formidable obstacles of moorland, requiring the construction of two major tunnels. At the Eastern end the 6230 yards (3.5 mile) Totley tunnel was constructed, which at the time, was the longest mainline railway tunnel running under land for its entire length. Whereas at a mere 3702 yards (2 miles) the Cowburn tunnel sits at the Western end of the line. Both these tunnels were incredible feats of engineering, especially the Totley tunnel which had major problems with flooding.

The first train ran through Totley tunnel on 1st December 1893, however the line was not officially opened until 1st June 1894. The Hope Valley line played a key role in the economic and social development of the area.

At the time of the Beeching review the line was in decline, and closure was recommended, with all passenger services being provided on the more Northerly Woodhead route. However on appeal, British Rail were required to maintain access to Edale for hikers, and instead the passenger services on the Woodhead lines ceased.

Today the Hope Valley line provides a direct service between Sheffield and Manchester, and a regular local service calling at stations along the route. This local service is very popular with hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts, who gain direct access to the stunning Peak District.

Created in 1951, the Peak District was the UK’s first National Park, and receives approximately 22 million visitors a year.