Delayed £145m upgrade of Hope Valley railway line finally begins

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Groundbreaking work on the delayed £145million rail reliability upgrade on the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield began yesterday.

This essential work will remove several bottlenecks on the Hope Valley line to allow passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains and improve reliability, helping people get to their destinations on time.

On Sundays and all weekends in July, Dore & Totley, Grindleford, Bamford and Hathersage stations will be closed to allow Network Rail and contractor VolkerRailStory Joint Venture to begin building an additional railway line and to make essential improvements to stations.

A Transport and Works Act order for the scheme, which is seen as a key enabler for the upgrade of the Northern Powerhouse Rail route, was granted by the Department for Transport in February 2018. At the time, Transport for the North said it was pushing for the release of funds for detailed design work during 2018/19, with a view to starting on site in April 2019.

Since then, progress on the program has stalled. However, in March last year the government pledged to invest £137m in the upgrade and joint venture Volker Rail and Story Contracting was awarded an £80m contract for the works to upgrade – and the work is finally underway.

The works are part of a £145million package of improvements and include:

  • A new accessible platform and walkway with elevators at Dore & Totley station
  • A rail loop between Bamford and Hathersage
  • A new overpass at Hathersage West, replacing the current pedestrian crossing to improve safety
  • Signaling improvements along the line to improve reliability
  • Platform extensions to allow more cars on services

Hannah Lomas, Network Rail’s lead program sponsor, said the rail operator is “very pleased to see this major work begin”.

She said: “This will improve stations and rail services in Hope Valley and improve passenger reliability in the future.

“There will be service changes and parking closures while we are working, so I would like to thank passengers for supporting us and apologize for any inconvenience.”

TransPennine Express Major Projects Director Chris Nutton described the works as ‘an essential step towards providing better services in the Pennines between Sheffield and Manchester, improving infrastructure to help make journeys for our more reliable customers and upgrading the stations we serve”.

He said: “While this engineering work takes place on the Hope Valley line, there will be a number of changes to TransPennine Express services, and we advise our customers to check the latest advice carefully before travelling. “

VRSJV Project Manager Darren Lockwood added, “We thank the local community for their patience and understanding as we carry out this essential upgrade work on the Hope Valley line. The works play an important role in facilitating this important investment in northern travel infrastructure.

Northern Regional Manager Tony Baxter said the work will “improve Hope Valley resorts and services.”

He added: “We are sorry for any disruption during the upgrades and our customers can be assured that Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimize the impact of the works and provide alternatives that keep people moving.

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