Penistone's Railway

Penistone Pictorial banner

The arrival of the railway in the mid nineteenth century transformed Penistone from a quiet and rural backwater to an industrial centre, with the Cammel Laird factory. Penistone remained a major junction until the Woodhead line was closed by 'Beeching's Axe' just over a century later. The Woodhead line was also a trail-blazer when electrification arrived in the 1950s, using a DC supply with electrical substations distributed along the line. Much of Penistone's old railway land is now used for the Trans-Pennine Trail, for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders.

We still have the Penistone Line with its seventeen stations between Huddersfield and Sheffield, using the ubiquitous Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) on a 37-mile trip between Sheffield and Huddersfield. The Flying Scotsman 4472 is shown below.

1 Stations,
Old & New
viaduct 4472
2 Huddersfield &
Woodhead Lines
3 Beeching's Axe
4 Flying Scotsman

New Road Tunnel?
A new Trans-Pennine road tunnel is being proposed (or 'studied') to link Manchester with Sheffield and take the heavy traffic away from the existing Trans-Pennine road route, which is often closed due to bad weather or accidents. It is unlikely that the 19th century, single-track railway tunnels could be re-employed, as they are in a very poor state of repair. The 1954 railway tunnel is now owned by National Grid and carries power cables across the Pennines. It had been designed to take electric trains and has no ventilation shafts. A Strategic Study (pdf p90) shows several possible routes from Manchester to Sheffield which would directly affect our area, if only during construction. See HMG.

This is part of HMG's 'Northern Powerhouse' project which had also concentrated on a new High Speed railway line ('HS2') between Lancashire and the south and better railway links between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Costing £billions, a train from Leeds to Manchester would be 20 minutes faster.

Earlier Proposals
Following a popular e-petition pressuring HM Government to re-open the Woodhead Tunnel for railway use, the following statement (April 2008) was announced by Transport Minister Ruth Kelly:

No current proposals for tunnels on the Woodhead route stop them from being re-opened for future rail use, if they are needed.

The Rail White Paper, published in July 2007, identified the need for more passenger capacity across the Pennines. It concluded that this could best be met by longer trains and faster journey times on the Manchester to Leeds via Huddersfield route. The White Paper did not identify any need for substantial extra trans-Pennine capacity for freight.

The Minister of State for Transport, Rosie Winterton, proposes to meet National Grid in the next few weeks to confirm that the Government would wish to explore further the option of continuing the inspection and maintenance regime for the Victorian tunnels once National Grid have vacated them.

Following that meeting, she would also like to meet key stakeholders to gain the transport industry and northern economic perspectives on the issue of Trans-Pennine transport and how that will tie in with the process of developing a longer term strategy. This will be conducted as part of the process outlined in the document - Towards a Sustainable Transport System (TaSTS).

And... nothing happened.

The Stocksbridge & District History Society has interesting articles and photographs about the railway and its various accidents. See also Wikipedia.

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