Hope Valley Railway Line Upgrade, England, UK

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Network Rail is upgrading the Hope Valley rail line between Manchester and Sheffield. Credit: Network Rail Limited.

The upgrade will include the doubling of some single track sections along Bamford and Dore. Credit: Zhao Zheming/Shutterstock.com.

The upgrade will allow fast passenger trains to overtake slow freight trains. Credit: alvarobueno/Shutterstock.com.

The Hope Valley Rail Line Upgrading Project will upgrade the existing rail line between Manchester and Sheffield in England.

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Implemented by Network Rail, the project will increase capacity and connectivity between Manchester and Sheffield.

The UK Government’s Department of Transport approved the upgrade of the Hope Valley Railway in February 2018. Site surveys, including topographic and ground investigation work, began in June 2021.

Construction of the project began in May 2022 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

Hope Valley Line Upgrade Goals

While most of the road from Hope Valley has two lanes, the road from Dore to Sheffield is a single track two-way line.

The bottleneck means trains cannot pass each other, particularly on the section between Chinley East Junction and Dore West Junction. It delays passenger trains, mainly due to slow freight trains.

The upgrade will build the infrastructure required to allow passenger train services to overtake slow moving freight trains, improving reliability and potentially increasing the number of passenger trains that can run on the route.

The project is expected to remove several bottlenecks along the line and enable it to meet future demand.

Rail travel demand is expected to increase by 66% in Manchester and 56% in Sheffield by 2029.

Construction details

The upgrade to the Hope Valley Railway line will create new overtaking facilities and associated rail infrastructure on the route between Bamford and Hathersage, and at Dore. It is being implemented through two work packages, one in Bamford and the other in Dore.

The Bamford package will include the construction of the Bamford Loop, a 1km loop line close to the existing railway line to allow passenger trains to overtake freight trains. The existing zebra crossing at Hathersage West will be replaced with an overpass to clear the way for the loop.

The loop will be able to accommodate trains up to 520m long. New embankment and retaining wall structures will be created, along with the widening of an underground bridge and several culverts as part of the work to facilitate the loop.

Work on the Dore lot will include the extension of the Dore Sud curve, allowing trains to stop without interfering with other rail services along the line.

A second track and a new platform will be built at Dore and Totley station while the existing platform will be extended.

The works also include the upgrading of signaling infrastructure along the railway line and the extension of the platforms.

Project funding

The Hope Valley line upgrade project is being implemented with an estimated investment of £145 million ($181.1 million).

In March 2021, the UK government agreed to invest £137 million ($190.3 million) in the project.

Contractors involved

Network Rail has awarded a contract worth £80m ($111.3m) to a joint venture (JV) between VolkerRail and Story Contracting to deliver the Hope Valley Upgrade project in March 2021.

In addition to upgrades along the line, the joint venture will implement several community-related projects.

Benefits of the Hope Valley Line Upgrade

The current capacity of the Manchester-Sheffield section of the Hope Valley line is two fast passenger trains per hour and one train stopping every two hours.

The upgrade is expected to increase capacity to three fast trains per hour and one stop train per hour.

The increase in passenger service will also provide more train choices potentially serving routes between Liverpool and Norwich, Liverpool and Leicester, and Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes.

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