Double bore at Dore for UK rail freight relief
In the English city of Sheffield, work is underway to relieve a freight bottleneck on the Midland Main Line in England. An additional track is being installed to help ease freight movements on the London-Sheffield route (the Midland Main Line) and the Hope Valley line, which serves a complex of busy quarry operations and provides a link between Sheffield and Manchester.
Reinstating long-removed tracks will significantly ease movements at Dore, a triangular junction south of Sheffield. The junction carries Midland Main Line traffic, freight traffic generated from Dove Holes quarry complex near Buxton, and other north-south flows. Part of the project also involves upgrading the Dore and Totley passenger station, adding a second platform to significantly ease operations and improve capacity.
Rationalised layout a hindrance to freight movements
Dore station and the triangular junction upon which it sits is one of the most visible parts of the Hope Valley Project. The line between Sheffield and Manchester has been criticised for capacity issues, leading to unreliable and infrequent services. This programme of upgrades, sanctioned by the national infrastructure agency Network Rail, is being delivered by a joint venture between engineering companies Volker Rail and Story.
“I’m passionate about this long delayed project that has roots going back to Railtrack in the late 1990s”, says Chris Morgan, a now retired financier, who has been observing the developing works at Dore. According to Chris, the rationalised layout at Dore is as much a hindrance to freight movements as it is to passenger service development. For freight, the major issue is the single line, west to south, which restricts capacity on the growing cement and aggregates traffic between the region and markets in the south.
Totley Tunnel will remain a block
Dore West and Dore South Junctions are being upgraded. “Work has been progressing on the project, with new track having been installed at Dore and Totley”, say Network Rail. In February 2023, we will be continuing the railway upgrades over several line closures. There will also be freight trains and other rail machinery in the area. To facilitate construction work, we will be closing a section of the Hope Valley line and working through the day and night.”
Our unofficial observer Chris Morgan thinks there is still scope for more improvement. “That short chord is as much a bottleneck as the single track through the station”, says Chris, speaking of the west to south alignment. “Possibly more so when a cement train runs up behind a delayed aggregate train waiting for a path to move forward. Once they’re released across the westbound tracks they’re trapped. In future they can both be looped ready for a gap in MML traffic. Of course Totley Tunnel will remain a block requiring over five minutes separation between trains.” The station will however not be accessible to main line trains, and will continue to be served only by Hope Valley trains.
I wish the article included both before and after track plans. I would find that most interesting.