The Branch Line Society


Derby New Track Tracker
Thursday 18th October 2018

Report by Peter Green with additional material by Paul Stewart

This fixture, designed and led by our member Tom Gilby, was arranged to cover all the new track around Derby station after the 78 (not 79!) days £200M engineering work to simplify and resignal the layout and thus operation of the area. The only significant track not intended or indeed possible to do was through P7, which was then OOU. During the blockade of most of the remainder of the station it had been done by many members (under one train in section with no signalling).


Passenger trains using P7 now need special arrangements due to signalling overlaps - such as on our subsequent 'Screaming Valentas' HST railtour of 17 Nov 2018. The Breadsall Up Slow Line, which has seen a small amount of irregular use, was also not covered on 18 Oct. The marked up (updated) version of the new Derby layout is with thanks to Martyn Brailsford.

Derby track layout
[© Martyn Brailsford 2018]

The event used the Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket (BLN 1311.1716 has full details of this exceptionally good value ticket - particularly so for the over 60s) and fortunately the writer, itching to go, had just one scratch off version left from a stock purchased for use during the various stages of the blockade.

Some participants arrived on the 06.40 CrossCountry service from Cardiff Central via Birmingham New Street doing new track into P3a (that side of the new scissors crossover, although easy to do, wasn't otherwise covered on the day - see later). Reinforcing previous reports of bumping into members on trains, by chance a prominent BLN Regional Editor joined at Wilnecote but not for our event, he was off to Nottingham for a beer and cider festival! We also met (twice!) a Long Eaton member making a genuine journey. The rest of our group (totalling 14) joined it with 170107 at P3a, after reversal, as the 09.41 to Nottingham to, on departure, do the left hand line of the new scissors crossover immediately south of the station and Line 'F' (the Up Connecting Line) to the Up Main and then to Long Eaton.

At Spondon the recently upgraded level crossing, resurfaced platforms and disconnected sidings were noted. The station (25,000 passengers 2017-18; +7%) is only served (SuX) in the morning and evening peaks plus a lunchtime train each way. Numbers should take off now the surrounding ex-industrial premises are being demolished to build more housing. At the town where everyone is always hungry, Tom recommended 'The Bakery' close to Long Eaton station for breakfast snacks. This was eventually achieved after a delay caused by a man ordering a Wedding Cake and giving detailed and lengthy instructions as to its specification, seemingly oblivious to the lengthening queue of people with a more immediate requirement, then two people with large orders for breakfast items for colleagues at work.

Back at the station it was another CrossCountry DMU (170101) from P2 at 10.24 hrs to Derby via the Down Main, Line 'E' (the Down Connecting Line), briefly the Up Tamworth Slow and crossing right at the scissors to P4a before reversal. Departure south was via the Down Tamworth Slow merging into the new Down Tamworth Fast just before Peartree station and then to Burton-on-Trent. There was 40 minutes here with quite a bit of freight on the move to see before joining the 11.26 CrossCountry Voyager (221130) for a through run on the Up Tamworth Fast, Derby P1 and Line 'A' northbound. It was very odd to have a northbound freight alongside us on Line 'B', which had only recently become bidirectional. The subsequent Sheffield P1 arrival was a surprise for many although some northbound CrossCountry trains are booked to use it. This was very convenient for a 'liquid lunch' in 'The Sheffield Tap' also on P1. Participants had become aware of a report of a suicide north of Newcastle which we thought might delay our next train at 12.55 from Sheffield (07.48 from Glasgow), and consequently extend our 'Lunch' break adjacent to P1. This indeed proved to be the case on both counts.

In fact the group didn't leave Sheffield P8 until 13.43 (with CrossCountry Voyagers 220033 & 221137). This was not the original train from Glasgow but rather one from the south that had been turned back to form a 10.42 from Newcastle in its path. No matter there was, very sensibly, recovery time in Tom's schedule, so although late we were able to retain the return parallel movement to our outward journey through Derby: Line 'B', P2 and the Down Tamworth Fast en route back to Burton-on-Trent.

The next two journeys would now be an hour later than planned before foregoing the one hour recovery time at Matlock to regain the original schedule. (Thank Goodness for Clock Face Timetables.) Thus it was a 14.48 (rather than 13.48) departure from Burton-on-Trent on CrossCountry DMU 170520 (required for haulage by one prominent member, the last of the class required by him, so was at the front of the queue to board). The Up Tamworth was taken crossing to the Up Tamworth Slow after Peartree station then, right at the cutting edge of gricing, crossing right at the scissors to Derby P4a. This train, an hour later than intended, caused the top (left side) of the scissors to be cut out; the earlier planned train had run to P3 (as booked) but we were then between Chesterfield and Derby!

Now it was time to switch to East Midlands Trains (EMT) for the 15.12 (153302 & 153374) from Derby P6a straight out via the Up Main to Long Eaton again. A quick walk down, under and up to P2 found the group on EMT's 15.37 (153384 & 153326) via the Up Main line to Derby P5b, continuing to join Line 'C' and then cross to Line 'B' and Line 'A' at St Marys South Jn so on to Matlock.

Previous thoughts of a ride on the 'Danglebahn' to the Heights of Abraham had already gone during Tom's negotiations with them and this was a good job as the hour allocated for it had also gone. There was just time to say 'Hello' to our deputy BLNI Editor, Derek Woodward, at Peak Rail's Matlock station shop (the NR side of the station) where Bill Hudson Transport Books is based - both well worth a visit.

Matlock departure was back on the same train, the 16.37 to Derby, via the Up Fast crossing left at St Marys South Jn to Line 'C' then 'D' to Derby P6b. Only two more Sheffields and a Long Eaton to go!

The 17.27 EMT (222003) from Derby P5b ran, as before, to Line 'A' at St Marys South Jn and on to Sheffield, by chance also P5b there. Return was on the 18.24 CrossCountry (221131) and the strangest move of the day (possibly due to signalling overlaps?). From St Marys South Jn it went left to Line 'D' as before but then right back to Line 'C' and Derby P3. Although scheduled to arrive at P3 we did not expect to use Line 'D' at all but just to continue on Line 'C' - this had the unexpected bonus of the right hand crossover from Line 'D' to Line 'C' but meant a small section of Line 'C' was not covered this day.

Next was a repeat of our earlier visit to Long Eaton on the 19.13 EMT (153302 & 153374) from Derby P6a and the Up Main. It was Fish & Chips for some during the wait for EMT 222001 on the 19.49 back from Long Eaton, the Down Main, Down Connecting Line (Line 'E') crossing right to Derby P4 for the required north departure from P4, Line 'C' and across left twice to Line 'A' for the last trip to Sheffield. There was nothing new on the final journey, the 20.50 EMT ex-Sheffield (222006), back to Derby P6.

Thanks all round were given to Tom for his meticulous planning and leading the group, including programmed refreshment facilities en route, before the group dispersed. Only two very minor sections of the new Derby station layout were not covered; altogether a very interesting and very cheap day out. Some members added to Tom's calculation of 323 miles on the event by parking at Long Eaton and using the Wayfarer ticket (valid after 09.00 SSuX) before/after the event to reach/return from Derby and this was also possible from other places such as Burton-on-Trent. When did you last do 323 miles for £6.50 (Senior rate) or 2.01p per mile; adults £13 (4.02p per mile) and gain new track as well?

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