Re-open the Railway between Matlock, Bakewell, Buxton and Manchester

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Residents of Derby, Leicester and those close to other Midland Main Line stations may not know that there was once a main rail route linking them all to Manchester.  This was a secondary mainline between London St Pancras and Manchester, closed more than 50 years ago as people chose to drive the new motorways instead.  It left the East Midlands only with slower and less direct opportunities for rail travel to Manchester and the North West. 

Few then saw a strategic future for rail.  Yet today, the increasing urgency of Climate Change has changed all of this.  There is a call for “modal shift” from the road back to rail.  This old but strategic rail route now offers a major new opportunity.  To make a measurable modal impact on lowering emissions would require regular services.  

There is no prospect of an early connection to Manchester via the traffic clogged Hope Valley line.  Meanwhile, the section between Matlock and Chinley remains closed to public service but the trackbed is in place.  Even the advent of HS2 offers no solution.

The current freight only reinstatement consortium for “The Peaks and Dales Rail Link” should now be supplemented with a full passenger offer of slow and semi-fast services through the Peak District National Park.  Once freight has been re-routed through the Park, then a fast service via the Dore South curve could be added.  Three regular clock face services are proposed to Manchester:

-      The “cycle train” is an all stations service from Derby via Buxton – includes an extra converted cycle rack carriage

-      Semi-fast: (Belper, Matlock, Bakewell, Chapel, Stockport)

-      Fast services, via the newly doubled Dore South curve, calling at Leicester, Loughborough, Long Eaton, Derby and Stockport.

Commuting to Manchester would be aided with a Park and Ride at Chapel-en-le-Frith whilst a similar facility at Rowsley would serve Derby and Nottingham.  At weekends, these car parks would be available for day visitors into the Peak District National Park.