Plans to reopen railway line on Monsal Trail are rejected by government

Plans to reinstate the railway line along the Monsal Trail in the Peak District have been rejected by the government.

A new paper has been published online by the Department of Transport and Network Rail detailing the outcomes for the Restoring Your Railway Fund programme. The paper sets out stations and lines to be re-opened across the country, along with naming new stations and schemes which have not been selected for funding. The Peaks and Dales route is amongst those schemes ‘not selected for funding at this time.’

The scheme has been controversial and brings to an end several years of campaigning with strong views for and against the plans for the eight and half mile trail.

Monsal Trail

The former Midland Railway route which closed in 1968 was given a new lease of life in 2011 when it was reopened to the public, subsequently becoming one of the most popular trails in the UK. Businesses have flourished along the route offering bike hire at Blackwell Mill and Hassop Station which also houses a café. Its 150 year old tunnels and spectacular Victorian viaduct between steep gorges and surrounding limestone hills became a hit with visitors to the Peak District.

The Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership (MEMRAP) campaigned for the reopening of the Peaks and Dales line. It said ‘linking the Peak District National Park’s most cut-off areas with direct trains running again between Derby and Manchester could benefit the tourism trade.’

Monsal Trail

There’s also been strong opposition to the reopening of the line with more than 15,000 signing a petition to ‘Save the Monsal Trail’. The petition argued that losing the trail meant  ‘reducing the appeal of one of our key tourism assets that is partly responsible for Derbyshires £2.3 billion tourism’.

The traffic free route used by walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and wheelchair users which is thought to attract 330,000 visitors a year. Usage increased during the pandemic as people sought to enjoy the outdoors during lockdowns and restrictions.

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