After visiting Peak Rail in the morning, the afternoon took us to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. The line was extended to the interchange with the National Rail network at Duffield in April 2011.
We started our visit at Wirksworth, where work to restore passenger services started. Passengers services had ceased in 1947, although the line survived for the transport of stone. In 2004, services south from Wirksworth started on a short section of line. In 2005 the line to Ravenstor reopened, which includes the steepest standard gauge incline in the UK at 1 in 29.
Upon arrival we first went for a ride on the shuttle to Ravenstor. It was steam powered with Barclay 0-4-0T 2360 “Brian Harrison” (Ferrybridge power station No.3) with a diesel railcar (not powered) for passengers. In a manner reminiscent of the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the guard rode in the front cab, with the locomotive at the bottom (Wirksworth) end of the the train.
Upon return to Wirksworth we visited the railway catering, which is located in an ex-Gatwick Express formation. The driving luggage van is the cafe, and the passenger carriages are used for parties. There was a 30th birthday party underway during our visit.
For the final part of our visit we took a return trip to Duffield. This train was a diesel unit, with windows out through the driving cabs at each end enabling views of the line. The middle carriage, built by Metro Cammell, had recently returned to traffic following restoration. There are two gated crossings on the trip, one just after leaving Wirksworth, and the other at Idridgehay. On each occasion, a member of the train crew left the train to open the gates, closing them afterwards.
Being able to look out of the front of the train meant that on the occasions when pheasants were on the track, we saw them flying up in front of the train.
At the southern terminus of Duffield the train is timed to meet a south bound train to Derby. Whilst we were waiting for the return working to Wirksworth north and southbound express trains from/to London passed through the mainline platforms.
This visit was a nice finish to the day, and although a small operation, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, have great potential, especially with the interchange at Duffield.
- Pictures from the visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway on 18 September 2011
- Ecclesbourne Valley Railway web site
- Wikipedia on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway