As part of the ongoing upgrade of Hope Valley railway in the UK, the first sections of track that are meant to add more fast trains between Manchester and Sheffield have been laid. According to Network Rail, the Hope Valley railway line’s long-standing bottleneck has been relieved with the installation of 340 meters of track.
Engineers at Bamford on the Hope Valley line laid the way for a new “passing loop”. It will enable slower trains to transfer to the new track while other trains pass by faster. Network Rail announced in January that the project would not be finished by December 2023 as initially planned. It would extend until spring 2024. No explanation for the delay has yet been provided.
The project will improve stations and remove several bottlenecks from the route between Manchester and Sheffield. During the track installation, the line through the Hope Valley was shut down. Engineers worked around the clock using equipment like heavy lift excavators, a dozer, and a tamper.
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Hope Valley line upgrade plan
A Transport & Works Act Order for the plan, considered to be a key enabler for the Northern Powerhouse Rail route upgrade, was awarded by the Department for Transport in February 2018. At the time, Transport for the North declared that it was pressing for the release of funds for the detailed design work during 2018/19, so as to start on site in April 2019.
Since that time, the plan’s development has stalled. However, the Volker Rail and Story Contracting joint venture was awarded an £80 million contract for the upgrade in March of last year. The government pledged to invest £137 million in the project. The actual start of work was in May 2022.
More than 700m of new track have been installed in Dore & Totley as part of the upgrade. This is since the beginning of the year. Work to extend a bridge so that the second line of track could pass through Dore & Totley station has also been finished.
This is along with a new platform and an accessible footbridge. Platform extensions to accommodate more carriages are one of the main enhancements also included in the Hope Valley line upgrade. This is together with a new overbridge at Hathersage West and more reliable signaling along the line.