Field Report: Peak Rail in the U.K.
After my visit to the three Network Rail signal boxes (as reported here), I travelled with David Horton to Peak Rail (http://www.peakrail.co.uk/), a preserved railway where he volunteers as a signalman. For the last 26 years, Peak Rail has operated steam and diesel trains on an abandoned portion of the former Midland Railway London-Manchester route through the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. The line currently runs nearly four miles from Rowsley to Matlock, where the line connects with the National Rail network.
We parked at Matlock (Photo 01) before taking the train to Rowsley to tour the extensive yard and shed facilities. In addition to Peak Rail equipment, the site is also home to the Heritage Shunters Trust (http://heritageshunters.co.uk/), the LMS Carriage Association (http://lmsca.org.uk/http:/) and the Renown Repulse Restoration Group (http://www.renownrepulse.com/), which aims to return 50029 and 50030 to working order (Photos 02, 03, 04). The yard is full of passenger coaches, freight wagons and locomotives in various states of repair, while the sheds contains some of the projects that volunteers are currently working on, including an overhaul of their massive "Peak" diesel locomotive (Photo 05).
After stopping to chat with the restaurant staff at the Rowsley station, we took the train back to Matlock. As the line had now closed for the day, we drove to Darley Dale, the intermediate stop. I was allowed track access to photograph 37152, which was sitting in the siding (Photo 06). Having spent a few minutes admiring the beautifully preserved Darley Dale station, we set off back to Doncaster (Photo 07).
Despite David insisting that the railway was very much a work in progress, the organization was very impressive and a lot has been accomplished in a few short decades. The line is very enjoyable as it is, but the amount of rolling stock in the yard shows how much potential there is for future expansion.
Peak Rail operates all year. For details of their timetable, visit their website at http://www.peakrail.co.uk/
My thanks to David Horton and to Peak Rail for allowing me to travel as a guest of the railway during my visit.
Posting and photos by Thomas Blampied
Click on each image for a closer look!