||This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Operated by||Peak Rail|
|Length||3.25 miles (5.23 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|1987||Peak Rail acquires Darley Dale and Track Relay work begins|
|1991||Peak Rail, Granted Light Railway Order|
|1992||Peak Rail Re-opens, Train Rides officially begin|
|1997||Rowsley South reached, PR extended|
|Peak Rail reaches Matlock (Platform 2),
First ever steam through service since 1968
Peak Rail is a preserved railway and Train Operating Company in Derbyshire, Central England, which operates both a steam and heritage diesel service for tourists and visitors to both the Peak District and the Derbyshire Dales.
The preserved railway line is currently over 3 and a half miles in length and, as of March 2013[update], operates train services from Matlock station (shared with Derwent Valley Line services from Derby via Ambergate) via the site of Matlock Riverside and Darley Dale to Rowsley South.
However Peak Rail intends to extend its operational services northward to Bakewell when resources allow. The first stage of this extension is to relay track to the site of Rowsley Station (serving the nearby village of Rowsley itself), extending to a total of 4¼ miles in length once the first stage is complete.
The Bakewell extension project would also include full restoration of both the Haddon tunnel and Coombs Road viaduct as well as the reinstatement of numerous bridges along the way. Bakewell station remains largely intact (though it may require reducing platform levels back to their former condition for preserved trains to pull in once again).
Beyond Bakewell the railway trackbed is used by the Monsal Trail but a restored line could operate single track alongside (as is done by the Heritage Avon Valley Railway in Gloucestershire) once safety issues are resolved.
First preservation attempts with the Buxton Steam Centre 
In 1975, the Peak Railway Preservation Society was established and opened a site at the now closed Buxton Steam Centre with restoration facilities and a 300 yard operating line. They also operated a successful restaurant ("The Palatine") in two railway carriages on site. Proposals were put forward to extend the operating line onto the single track freight line towards Peak Forest, but were not met with success.
Closure of the Buxton Steam Centre and relocation to Darley Dale 
In 1997, the line was extended within a half-mile south of the Derbyshire village of Rowsley itself. A new station was constructed next to the site of the former loco shed at Rowsley South. The station was capable of holding long incoming charter trains and had a car park to accommodate a large number of cars and other vehicles. The station at Rowsley South has also been utilised for local charity events and cycle races, as well as steam and vintage vehicle rallies. With its location on the edge of the Peak District the railway joins other attractions in the area, including Bakewell, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth House, the Rowsley shopping village, the village of Rowsley and the Cauldwell's Mill museum.
Extension to Matlock (Network Rail) station 
With the construction of Matlock by-pass and the new Sainsburys supermarket in the former Cawdor Quarry a new track alignment and track layout was installed between Matlock Riverside and Matlock (Network Rail) station to provide a new connection to the national network.
At Matlock Riverside a newly refurbished signal box is being erected to facilitate movement between Peak Rail and the restored former down platform at Matlock (Network Rail) station. The extension to Matlock (NR) was finally re-opened on 2 July 2011.
Possible future expansion towards Bakewell 
Peak Rail are now currently investigating on extending the railway towards Bakewell; "this would include full restoration of the former Rowsley Station site to its former condition and Haddon Halt (located between Rowsley and the old Haddon tunnel) serving the nearby Haddon estate" along the way. Also required would be excavating the trackbed at the platforms to allow trains to pull into the site properly and some bridge "replacements/re-instatements".
This is unlikely to happen before 2014–15 or until finance becomes available. Eventually Peak Rail could allow its heritage railway services to serve "The Bakewell Show", an event which has taken place each and every year in August since 1819.
Special events 
The railway operates special events as well as the normal timetabled services. These special events include themed "Halloween" and "Santa Specials" for children and families; the "Warring Forties" event, with battle re-enactments of World War Two skirmishes involving military vehicles and re-enactors on the site; Diesel Galas; and local music festivals.
A restaurant service called "The Palatine" operates on given days throughout the season, whilst at Darley Dale there is a museum of the line's local history.
With the possible Bakewell extension project (currently being investigated) the railway could also serve the Bakewell Show by providing a vintage bus service from the Bakewell station site to the showground.
Proposed extension & (Future) stations 
||This section may contain unsourced predictions, speculative material or accounts of events that might not occur. (August 2012)|
There has been a proposal for Peak Rail to extend the line north to Rowsley village proper "to the site of Rowsley Station itself", and then to Bakewell railway station via a proposed Haddon Halt.
Now that the Peak Rail/Network Rail reconnection project is complete, work on extending via Rowsley and Haddon Halt towards Bakewell is likely to begin once finances allow.
This would include full restoration of the old Haddon tunnel and both Coombs Road & Rowsley viaducts to their former use and re-excavating the platforms back to normal size to allow trains to enter the site once planning permission is granted.
Bakewell Extension In Phases 
- Phase 1 (of the Bakewell Extension project) is restore and re-lay track to the site of Rowsley railway station itself (serving the nearby village of Rowsley itself), Plus a bridge replacement or 2 including reconstruction and full restoration of Rowsley station to its former glory.
- Phase 2 would be reinstating a bridge joining up to Rowsley viaduct above a nearby road, followed by restoration of both the viaduct and trackbed as far as a proposed Haddon Halt.
- Phase 3 would then be restoring both the old Haddon Tunnel and Coombes Road viaduct to former use before relaying track to a few metres from the edge of the Bakewell station site itself.
- Phase 4 might then see removal of infill between the platforms and then relaying track into the old station site and then restoring the site to its former use and glory.
However Peak Cycle Links wish to open this section as a southern extension of the Monsal Trail and have designed their own bridges over the A6 and Church Lane at Rowsley that give little reference or possibility of reopening the line into Bakewell.
Although talks could take place in sharing (rail alongside path) issues for future generations allowing Peak Rail to reach as far as Bakewell in the future.
Operating groups at the present railway 
Several railway preservation groups are based at the railway, often working in support of and cooperation with Peak Rail. These include:
- The Heritage Shunters Trust, which has a large collection of former British Railways and private company shunters.
- The Derbyshire Dales Narrow Gauge Railway, which operates narrow gauge trains over a short running line by the picnic ground at Rowsley.
- The London Midland and Scottish Carriage Association, which restore examples of L.M.S and other coaching stock.
- The Renown Repulse Locomotive Group, responsible for the restoration of two former British Rail Class 50 locomotives.
- Andrew Briddon, who has several of his locomotives based upon the railway.
- Other locomotive and stock owners who are restoring wagons and stock upon the line
For further details see Rowsley South.
Motive power 
Steam locomotives 
- Hunslet 0-6-0ST "Lord Phil"
Undergoing overhaul 
- RSH 0-6-0T No. 7597 "Zebedee" - Work ongoing at Rowsley South Yard, boiler in very good condition.
- RSH 0-6-0ST No. 7136 built in 1944. (Carries No. 68013 "Royal Pioneer". Previously No.WD150) (boiler ticket expired April 2013)
Diesel locomotives 
- BR 0-4-0 Class 01 no. D2953 
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 nos. 03099 and D2199
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 04 no. D2284
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 05 no. D2587
- BR 0-6-0DH Class 14 no 14 901 (D9524) br blue. built in 1964.
- BR 0-6-0DH Class 14 no. D9525
- BR A1A-A1A Class 31 no. 31270
- BR Co-Co Class 37 no. 37152
- BR 1Co-Co1 Class 44 no. D8 "Penyghent" 
- BR 0-6-0DE Class 97/6 no. 97654
- Thomas Hill Vanguard 4wDH "Charlie" (No. 265V of 1976) regular works train loco.
- Thomas Hill Vanguard 4wDH "Cheedale" (No.284V of 1979)
- Drewry/Vulcan Foundry 0-4-0DM WD72229 of 1945
- Sentinel 0-6-0DH (No.10180 of 1964) "Tom"
Undergoing overhaul/restoration 
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 nos. D2118, 03113 and D2139
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 04 no. D2229 and D2237
- BR 0-6-0DE Class 11 no. 12061
- BR Co-Co Class 37 no. 37188
- BR Co-Co Class 50 no. 50030 "Repulse" br large logo blue. built in 1968.
- Yorkshire Engine Co 0-6-0DH no. 2940 of 1965 "Libby"
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 nos. 03027
- BR 0-6-0DM Class 04 nos. D2272 and D2324
- BR 0-6-0DE Class 07 no. 07013
- BR 0-6-0DH Class 14 nos. D9500 and D9502
- BR Co-Co Class 50 no. 50029 "Renown" br large logo blue. built in 1968. (Cosmetically restored)
- North British 0-6-0DH 27932 of 1962
- Brush Traction 0-6-0DE BT803 of 1979 (formerly with Tyne & Wear Metro and Channel Tunnel construction)
- Yorkshire 0-4-0DH (2679 of 1961)
Signalling on the railway 
There are currently four signal boxes on the route. Two boxes control the only two level crossings on the old Midland Railway main line route from Manchester to London St Pancras. The crossings are both in the Darley Dale area on the Peak Rail line. The third signal box is currently out of use, and came from Bamford in the Hope Valley. There are plans to move this structure to Rowsley South railway station for refurbishment and future operational use. The fourth is also currently being commissioned and came from Luffenham. It will control the Matlock area.
Church Lane Crossing 
Church Lane Crossing Box controls the section from Darley Dale to Rowsley South under the one train staff key method, as well as the traditionally gated level crossing at Churchtown. Originally, this signal box came from Gorsey Bank level crossing on the nearby Wirksworth branch, the signals here are Midland Railway lower quadrant examples on wooden posts dating from 1927.
Church Lane operates the only current example of preserved "Josslock" motor points. This is an electro-hydraulically worked electro-pneumatic point machine, whereby a standard electro-pneumatic point is driven by a hydraulic power pack.
Darley Dale Crossing 
Darley Dale signal box controls the section from Darley Dale to Matlock Riverside under the one train staff key, as well as the other gated level crossing at Station Road. This signal box is based on an L.M.S. ground level design, and was erected in 2007 to replace the older Midland style replica cabin which had become life-expired.
Darley Dale station and passing loop 
The passing loop at Darley Dale is crossed using the Absolute Block method, with the signal box at the other end releasing the signal of the opposite signal box to allow trains to enter the applicable up or down loop line.
It is possible to run two trains at a time on the railway, passing in the loop at Darley Dale station. Each section of the railway is worked by a train staff, each with a key to operate the ground frames and electrical signal releases at the signal boxes and the ground frames at Rowsley South, Rowsley North, Darley South Yard sidings and Matlock Riverside.
Matlock Riverside 
The cabin there came from Luffenham junction ex ER. The cabin itself has had major rebuilding works to the rear and sides while in store at Rowsley to replace life expired components and has been mounted upon a non prototypical stone-block base due to its exposed position. An internal staircase has also been fitted in the same manner to protect against vandalism.
The lever frame inside uses 19 levers from the 29 levers recovered from Glendon North Junction back in the early nineties, the cabin's mechanical interlocking allows the signals exiting and entering the loop via the Darley Dale end to be cleared in opposing directions when the cabin is switched out via the King lever locking.
The primary role of this cabin is to allow the operation of the top and tail locomotives used during running into Matlock to be detrained and attached at this location and to allow more operational flexibility during galas.
Other signal boxes and ground frames 
Another unused signal box at Darley Dale is located on the up platform (originally located at Bamford). It was originally located there when the railway first reopened to work the level crossing at Station Road, but for several reasons it was not brought into use (limited box to public highway visibility being amongst them). There are plans to remove this signalbox to Rowsley South, where it will initially control the loco shed sidings and yard exits as a shunt frame, before going on to encompass the station area and any alterations to the track layout to the station's northern end when the line extends towards Rowsley village in the future,( more on this subject is noted within the signalling departments project section upon this page).
Over the early years when the railway started heritage operations on the site at Buxton, many signal boxes or parts therof were recovered, donated or sourced for the railway from such locations as Gorsey Bank, Lymm Station, Lymm Lane crossing and Hindlow. Lever and ground frames were sourced locally from the Midlands and North Western regions from places such as Whaley Bridge and Dunford Bridge. Not all structures were obtained complete; some were acquired with the cooperation of other heritage railways along joint recoveries, some structures were in a poor condition and so only parts therof were saveable such as standard window sections like those recovered from Glendon North which have been reused in both the ex Luffenham and Darley Dale cabins.
Ongoing projects 
As of April 2013, the structure for the engine shed project was finished externally, with only small internal additions required to some areas, including the workshop. On 1 May, the former Mold Junction turntable was brought back into use at Rowsley South, and was officially opened by Pete Waterman.
Negotiations for the lease of a further mile of trackbed to the north have resulted in the offer of a 99-year lease on the trackbed from Rowsley South to (a proposed Rowsley North station at) Rowsley village and the site of the former station. Discussions regarding access to the Matlock down platform have resulted in an agreed 50-year lease, including the re-connection of the Network Rail and Peak Rail metals. The rails were originally disconnected due to a rearrangement of Network Rail track as a part of other redevelopments in the area south of the present Matlock Riverside station. The Peak Rail/Network Rail track reconnections project is now complete.
Recent Signalling Changes 
In late February 2007, the railway's 'Two-Train Running' project was completed and approved by the HM Railway Inspectorate. Through improvements to infrastructure and signalling, this project allows two trains in steam on the line, utilising a refurbished and extended passing loop at Darley Dale. This enhancement has allowed the working of freight and passenger services on special event days, with multiple passenger services to follow in future operating seasons, to add to this the recent commissioning of the token system between Rowsley (Northwood) and Church Lane allows more than one train to access the site at Rowsley in succession, used in connection with the two train running and especially incoming charter trains which wish to terminate at Rowsley whilst normal passenger trains continue to operate upon the line.
The signalling engineers are currently working on several projects:
- Completion of Riverside shunting cabin, which will allow the working of a top and tailed train between Matlock Riverside and Matlock station to be dropped off and collected at the loop at Riverside, the signalbox utilises the ex Glendon North junction lever frame with the cabin being ex Luffenham junction in structure, having had extensive rebuilding works to remove various rotten bits of structure.
- The relocation of the unused ex Bamford signalbox from Darley Dale to Rowsley where it will be relocated adjacent to the current entrance to the site at Nannygoat crossing, here it will control the entrance to the yard sidings where there are currently one ground frame and two handpoints that require alteration before any extension north towards Rowsley, the structure is due to be moved in early to mid-2013.
The recent acquisition of the ex Barrow Hill Up Sidings lever frame (portion of 15 levers)for the project will present a unique example of the only working Turnover style lever frame still in use in the UK,this has been possible with the assistance of the National Railway Museum and other individuals who have assisted within the technical aspects of the project, this will occur during 2013 once the cabin has been relocated.
Extra equipment ex Sandy NER, has also been acquired ex NRM,which operate and adjust the unique wire driven points systems that work from the turnover lever frame.
== Darley Dale footbridge ==
In mid-2009, the original ex-Midland Railway Darley Dale footbridge was purchased from the (Midland Railway, Butterley) with an aim towards restoration and eventual repositioning at its original location at Darley Dale. Part of this project requires the removal of the currently unused signal box structure to facilitate the erection of the footbridge. Fundraising for this ambitious project began in late 2009 and is continuing.
Future developments 
The former London to Manchester main line can be considered in four sections:
Overlapping this from Derby to Ambergate and on to Matlock as the Derwent Valley Line.
The Matlock to Rowsley operated by Peak Rail who also have an interest in the line through Bakewell to Buxton station. From there, the line could follow the former London and North Western Railway (LNWR) line to Manchester (although through trains would have to reverse), or extend from Millers Dale on its original route to join the still existing line to Chinley on the Hope Valley Line.
In 2004, Derbyshire County Council published a study which concluded that reopening the line for a local service was technically feasible and that the track bed should remain clear of development, but it was not an economic possibility in the near future.
The Derwent Valley Line, which connects with the railway at Matlock, has reportedly been allowed to deteriorate both in infrastructure and quality of service. In 2005, a document was published by the Friends of the Derwent Valley Line with the assistance of the County Council. The document argued for improvements to the current service. Network Rail carried out the necessary strengthening of three bridges on the branch, resulting in an improvement of route availability. This potentially allows the line to be traversed by locomotives hauling charter trains on Sundays when there are available paths.
A more recent development with significant implications for Peak Rail's future was the decision by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak Planning Board to support a scheme to develop the trackbed from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill as a cycle track. The 'Monsal Trail' is similar to the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail, and includes formerly closed tunnels on the route now being opened to the public as rights of way. The proposal also had a stated aim to extend to Matlock in the long term and this part of the plan was initially taken on by Peak Cycle Links who produced planning applications showing a cycle path following the trackbed as far south as Darley Dale. These plans acknowledge the existing railway as well as phase one of the extension project but make no mention of the proposed extension beyond Rowsley village toward Bakewell. On the plus side having the cycle track run largely alongside the railway between Darley Dale and Rowsley would show that dual use is compatible as well as increasing exposure of the railway. In addition reopening Haddon Tunnel could be viewed as paving the way for extending the railway beyond Rowsley village, although careful consideration would need to be given with respect to steam trains and cyclists/walkers sharing tunnel space. The Peak Park Authority themselves are due to submit revised Monsal Trail extension planning applications in 2013.
See also 
- "Peak Cycle Links: Bakewell to Rowsley". Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Peak Cycle Links: Rowsley to Church Lane, Darley Dale". Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- The Peak Rail website
- Today's Railways February 2007 article on Peak Rail, by kind permission of Platform 5 Publishing
- The Peak Rail Volunteering website[dead link]
- Peak Rail's Signalling Department website
- Friends of the Derwent Valley Line
- County Council Feasibility Study Derbyshire County Council (2004) Derby to Manchester Railway Matlock to Buxton / Chinley Link Study. Main Report, Volume 1A: Version: Final. This report also has detailed plans of the line.
- The Andrew Briddon loco collection