The £145m upgrade to accommodate for an increased number of high speed trains between Sheffield and Manchester has begun, with Network Rail confirming 340m of track has been installed.
This new track will act to relieve the consistent bottleneck on the Hope Valley railway line, seeing engineers laying the track for a new “passing loop” which will accommodate slower trains to alternate between the new track, thus allowing faster trains to continue with their journeys at the higher speed.
During the process of this track installation, there was a forced closure to the line through the Hope Valley, allowing the engineers time to work around the clock using heavy duty machinery such as heavy lift excavators, a dozer and a tamper, that could have been hazardous if live services were to continue.
Rail minister Huw Merriman said:
“These vital improvements will transform journeys on the historic Hope Valley line, making services faster and more reliable for passengers in the North.
“Backed by £137M government funding, the upgrades will boost connections between two thriving Northern cities while ensuring our stations are inclusive and accessible for all.”
In 2018 the Department for Transport granted a Transport & Works Order for the project, with hopes that the scheme would get underway soon after, however progress stalled until March of last year when the Government committed £137m of investment for the works, which officially began in May 2022.
Network Rail senior sponsor Graeme Whitehead said:
“Installing the first pieces of track for this important passing loop is a major milestone for the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade.
“The upgrade of this popular route will help to alleviate historic bottlenecks, bringing faster and more reliable travel to local passengers and long-distance travellers.”
These track works between Sheffield and Manchester come as part of a package of works to accommodate for the Northern Powerhouse Rail route upgrade, which has seen further progression since the start of the year, with more than 700m of new track has been installed in Dore & Totley as part of the upgrade. A bridge extension has also been completed to facilitate the second line of track, accompanying a new platform and footbridge for accessibility.
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