|Midland Main Line|
East of England
Yorkshire and the Humber
|Termini||London St Pancras|
Sheffield or Nottingham
|Stations||35 (London to Sheffield)|
|Type||Intercity, commuter rail,|
regional rail and heavy rail
|Operator(s)||East Midlands Railway|
Direct Rail Services
Derby Etches Park
|Rolling stock||High Speed Trains|
Class 150 Sprinter
Class 153 Super Sprinter
Class 156 Super Sprinter
Class 158 Express Sprinter
Class 170 Turbostar
Class 180 Adelante
Class 185 Desiro
Class 220 Voyager
Class 221 Super Voyager
Class 222 Meridian
Class 700 Desiro City
|Opened||Stages between 1830s-1860s|
|Number of tracks||2-4|
|Loading gauge||W6-W8, planned upgrade to UIC GB+|
|Electrification||25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE|
(London St Pancras to Kettering)
|Operating speed||Maximum 125 mph (201 km/h)|
Midland Main Line
The Midland Main Line is a major railway line in England from London to Nottingham and Sheffield in the north of England. The line is under the Network Rail description of Route 19; it comprises the lines from London's St Pancras station via Leicester, Derby/Nottingham and Chesterfield in the East Midlands.
Express passenger services on the line are operated by East Midlands Railway. The section between St Pancras and Bedford is electrified and forms the northern half of Thameslink, with a semi-fast service to Brighton and other suburban services.
A northern part of the route, between Derby and Chesterfield, also forms part of the Cross Country Route operated by CrossCountry. Tracks from Nottingham to Leeds via Barnsley and Sheffield are shared with Northern. East Midlands Railway also operates regional and local services using parts of the line.
The Midland Main Line was built in stages between the 1830s and the 1870s. The earliest section was opened by the Midland Counties Railway between Nottingham and Derby on 4 June 1839. On 5 May 1840 the section of the route from Trent Junction to Leicester was opened.
Without its own route to London, the Midland Railway relied upon a junction at Rugby with the London and Birmingham Railway line for access to the capital at London Euston. By the 1850s the junction at Rugby had become severely congested. The Midland Railway employed Thomas Brassey to construct a new route from Leicester to Hitchin via Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford. giving access to London via the Great Northern Railway from Hitchin. The Crimean War resulted in a shortage of labour and finance, and only £900,000 (equivalent to £86,490,000 in 2019) was available for the construction, approximately £15,000 for each mile. To reduce construction costs the railway followed natural contours, resulting in many curves and gradients. Seven bridges and one tunnel were required, with 60 ft cuttings at Desborough and Sharnbrook. There are also major summits at Kibworth, Desbrough and at Sharnbrook where a 1 in 119 gradient from the south over 3 miles takes the line to 340 feet (100 m) above sea level. This route opened for coal traffic on 15 April 1857, goods on 4 May and passengers on 8 May and the section between Leicester and Bedford is still part of the Midland Main Line.
While this took some of the pressure off the route through Rugby, the GNR insisted that passengers for London alight at Hitchin, buying tickets in the short time available, to catch a GNR train to finish their journey. James Allport arranged a seven-year deal with the GN to run into Kings Cross for a guaranteed £20,000 a year (equivalent to £1,920,000 in 2019). Through services to London were introduced in February 1858.
This line met with similar capacity problems at Hitchin as the former route via Rugby, so a new line was constructed from Bedford via Luton to St Pancras which opened on 1 October 1868. The construction of the London extension cost £9 million (equivalent to £816 million in 2019).
Plans by the Midland Railway to build a direct line from Derby to Manchester were thwarted in 1863 by the builders of the Buxton line who sought to monopolise on[clarification needed] the West Coast Main Line.
In 1870 the Midland Railway opened a new route from Chesterfield to Rotherham which went through Sheffield via the Bradway Tunnel.
Before the line closures of the Beeching era, the lines to Buxton and via Millers Dale during most years presented an alternate (and competing) main line from London to Manchester, carrying named expresses such as The Palatine and the "Blue Pullman" diesel powered Manchester - London service ( the " Midland Pullman"). Express trains to Leeds and Scotland such as the Thames-Clyde Express mainly used the Midland's corollary Erewash Valley line, returned to it then used the Settle-Carlisle line. Expresses to Edinburgh Waverley, such as The Waverley travelled through Corby and Nottingham.
Most Leicester-Nottingham local passenger trains were taken over by diesel units from 14 April 1958, taking about 51 minutes between the two cities.
In 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended considering electrification of more of Britain's rail network, and by 1979 BR presented a range of options that included electrifying the Midland Main Line from London to Yorkshire by 2000. By 1983 the line had been electrified from Moorgate to Bedford, but proposals to continue electrification to Nottingham and Sheffield were not implemented.
The introduction of the High Speed Train (HST) in May 1983, following the Leicester area resignalling, brought about an increase of the ruling line speed on the fast lines from 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h).
Between 2001 and 2003 the line between Derby and Sheffield was upgraded from 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) as part of Operation Princess, the Network Rail funded CrossCountry route upgrade.
In January 2009 a new station, East Midlands Parkway, was opened between Loughborough and Trent Junction, to act as a park-and-ride station for suburban travellers from East Midlands cities and to serve nearby East Midlands Airport.
Most recently 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) running has been introduced on extended stretches. Improved signalling, increased number of tracks and the revival of proposals to extend electrification from Bedford to Sheffield are underway. Much of this £70 million upgrade, including some line-speed increases, came online on 9 December 2013 (see below).
Network Rail published a Route Utilisation Strategy for freight in 2007; over the coming years a cross-country freight route will be developed enhancing the Birmingham to Peterborough Line, increasing capacity through Leicester, and remodelling Syston and Wigston junctions.
Traffic levels on the Midland Main Line are rising faster than the national average, with continued increases predicted. In 2006 the Strategic Rail Authority produced a Route Utilisation Strategy for the Midland Main Line to propose ways of meeting this demand;Network Rail started a new study in February 2008 and this was published in February 2010. After electrification, the North Northamptonshire towns (Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby) are planned to have an additional 'Outer Suburban service' into London St Pancras, similar to the West Midlands Trains' Crewe - London Euston services to cater for the growing commuter market. North Northamptonshire is a major growth area, with over 7,400 new homes planned to be built in Wellingborough and 5,500 new homes planned for Kettering.
On 16 July 2012, the Department for Transport announced plans to reconfigure the existing electrified section between London and Bedford, and to electrify most of the line by 2020 at an expected cost of £800 million. In January 2013, Network Rail expected the project to cost £500 million and be undertaken in stages between 2014 and 2019, with Bedford to Corby electrified by 2017 and Kettering to Derby and Nottingham by 2019. The final section, from Derby to Sheffield, was estimated for completion in 2020. Network Rail also recommended the Class 801 in 10-car formations for the InterCity services, 775 metres (848 yd) track loops south of Bedford and between Kettering and Leicester for longer and heavier freight trains, additional infrastructure to accommodate additional freight and passenger trains, and an additional stop at Kettering for semi-fast London to Sheffield services. The plan was part of the now largely cancelled "Electric Spine" project consisting of a rolling series of electrified lines.
Development was paused in June 2015 by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. Later in 2015, the Department for Transport announced a revised completion date of 2019 for electrifying the line to Corby and Kettering, and 2023 to Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield. In July 2017, plans to electrify the route beyond Kettering were cancelled and it was announced that the route would be served by bi-mode trains. In November 2017, Carillion Powerlines was awarded a £260 million contract by Network Rail to electrify the line from Bedford to Kettering and Corby. Carillion also secured a separate £62 million contract for track upgrades on the route. In January 2021, electrification to Corby was complete.
In February 2019, Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, announced that electrification would be extended from Kettering to Market Harborough, enabling the connection of the line to a new power supply point at Braybrooke. In February 2021 Network Rail announced the preparation work had started.
The Thameslink Programme has lengthened the platforms at most stations south of Bedford to 12-car capability. St Pancras, Cricklewood, Hendon and Luton Airport Parkway were already long enough, but bridges at Kentish Town mean it cannot expand beyond the current 8-car platform length. West Hampstead Thameslink has a new footbridge and a new station building. In September 2014 the current Thameslink Great Northern franchise was awarded and trains on this route are currently operated by Thameslink. In 2018 the Thameslink network will expand when some Southern services are merged into it.
In 2013/14 Nottingham station was refurbished and the platforms restructured.
Two new stations are planned:
Some new stations have been proposed:
The term Midland Main Line has been used from the late 1840s to describe any route of the Midland Railway on which express trains were operated.
In 1868 the term was used to describe the Midland Railway main route from North to South through Sheffield and also on routes to Manchester, Leeds and Carlisle.
Under British Rail the term was used to define the route between St Pancras and Sheffield, but in more recent times, Network Rail has restricted it in its description of Route 19 to the lines between St. Pancras and Chesterfield.
The principal operator is East Midlands Railway, which operates five InterCity trains every hour from London St Pancras with two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield and one train per hour to Corby. EMR use Class 222 Meridian trains in various carriage formations for most of its InterCity services. Older 8 coach High Speed Trains are used for its Nottingham fast service as well morning/evening Leeds services.
Thameslink provides frequent, 24-hour commuter services south of Bedford as part of its Thameslink route to London Bridge, Gatwick Airport, Brighton and Sutton, using 8-car and 12-car electric Class 700 trains.
CrossCountry runs half-hourly services between Derby and Sheffield on its route between the South West and North East, and hourly services from Nottingham to Birmingham and Cardiff. Northern runs an hourly service to Leeds from Nottingham via Alfreton and Barnsley.
Other operators include TransPennine Express in the Sheffield area.
The cities, towns and villages currently served by the MML are listed below. Stations in bold have a high usage. This table includes the historical extensions to Manchester (where it linked to the West Coast Main Line) and Carlisle (via Leeds where it meets with the 'modern' East Coast Main Line).
Network Rail groups all lines in the East Midlands and the route north as far as Chesterfield and south to London as route 19. The actual line extends beyond this into routes 10 and 11.
|Station||Village/town/city and county||Ordnance Survey
|Year opened||Step free access||No. of platforms||Usage 2015/16
|Branches and loops|
|London St Pancras||St Pancras, London||1868||15||31.724||High Speed 1 diverges north of St Pancras|
|Kentish Town||Kentish Town, London||1868||4||2.844||Branch from to Gospel Oak to Barking line north of station|
|West Hampstead Thameslink||West Hampstead, London||1871||4||3.710|
|Cricklewood||Cricklewood, London||1868||4||1.057||Dudding Hill Line diverges north of Cricklewood|
|Hendon||Hendon, London||1868||4||1.178||Dudding Hill Line diverges south of Hendon|
|Mill Hill Broadway||Mill Hill, London||grid reference||1868||4||1.949|
|Elstree & Borehamwood||Borehamwood, Hertfordshire||1868||4||3.382|
|Radlett||Radlett, Hertfordshire||grid reference||1868||4||1.188|
|St Albans City||St Albans, Hertfordshire||grid reference||1868||4||7.451|
|Harpenden||Harpenden, Hertfordshire||grid reference||1868||4||3.337|
|Luton Airport Parkway||Luton, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1999||4||3.188|
|Luton||Luton, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1868||5||3.626|
|Leagrave||Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1868||4||1.915|
|Harlington||Harlington, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1868||4||0.336|
|Flitwick||Flitwick, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1870||4||1.480|
|Bedford Midland||Bedford, Bedfordshire||grid reference||1859||5||3.830||Marston Vale line diverges south of Bedford|
|Wellingborough||Wellingborough, Northamptonshire||grid reference||1857||4||0.969|
|Kettering||Kettering, Northamptonshire||grid reference||1857||4||1.042||Oakham-Kettering line diverges north of Kettering at Glendon Jun|
|via Corby & diversion route|
|Corby||Corby, Northamptonshire||grid reference||2009||1||0.278||Oakham-Kettering line|
|Oakham||Oakham, Rutland||grid reference||1848||2||0.213||Birmingham-Peterborough line|
|Melton Mowbray||Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire||grid reference||1848||2||0.266|
|Main Line via Market Harborough|
|Market Harborough||Market Harborough, Leicestershire||grid reference||1850||2||0.870|
|Leicester||Leicester, Leicestershire||grid reference||1840||4||5.247||Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges south of Leicester at Wigston Junction|
|Syston||Syston, Leicestershire||grid reference||1994||1||0.210||Birmingham to Peterborough Line diverges north of Syston|
|Sileby||Sileby, Leicestershire||grid reference||1994||2||0.123|
|Barrow-upon-Soar||Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire||grid reference||1994||2||0.098|
|Loughborough||Loughborough, Leicestershire||grid reference||1872||3||1.298|
|East Midlands Parkway||Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire (for East Midlands Airport)||grid reference||2007||4||0.306||Trent Junction to Clay Cross Junction via Derby (the original line), the Nottingham branch, and the Erewash Valley Line each diverge north of East Midlands Parkway|
|Long Eaton||Long Eaton, Derbyshire||grid reference||1888||2||0.660||Cord south of Long Eaton to the Nottingham branch|
|Spondon||Spondon, Derby, Derbyshire||grid reference||1839||2||0.026|
|Derby||Derby, Derbyshire||grid reference||1839||6||3.767||Cross Country Route and Crewe to Derby Line diverges south of Derby|
|Duffield||Duffield, Derbyshire||grid reference||1841||3||0.061|
|Belper||Belper, Derbyshire||grid reference||1840||2||0.225|
|Ambergate||Ambergate, Derbyshire||grid reference||1840||1||0.042||Derwent Valley line diverges at Ambergate Junction|
|Attenborough||Attenborough, Nottinghamshire||grid reference||1856||2||0.112|
|Beeston||Beeston, Nottinghamshire||grid reference||1839||2||0.574|
|Nottingham Midland||Nottingham, Nottinghamshire||grid reference||1904||7||7.200||Northbound trains reverse towards Langley Mill. Others pass through the station onto the Robin Hood Line, Grantham line or Lincoln line.|
|Via Erewash Valley (bypassing or calling at Nottingham)|
|Langley Mill||Langley Mill, Derbyshire||grid reference||1847||2||0.116||Erewash Valley and Trent Nottingham lines rejoin south of Langley Mill.|
|Alfreton||Alfreton, Derbyshire||grid reference||1862||2||0.283|
|Clay Cross Junction to Leeds|
|Chesterfield||Chesterfield, Derbyshire||grid reference||1840||3||1.731||Trent Junction to Clay Cross via Derby and Erewash Valley lines rejoin together south of Chesterfield.|
|Dronfield||Dronfield, Derbyshire||grid reference||1981||2||0.200||Hope Valley line diverges north of Dronfield|
|Sheffield||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||grid reference||1870||9||9.213||Hope Valley Line diverges south of Sheffield |
Sheffield to Lincoln Line diverges north of Sheffield
|Meadowhall Interchange||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||grid reference||1990||4 NR||2.138||Hallam and Penistone Lines diverges at Meadowhall|
|Doncaster||Doncaster, South Yorkshire||grid reference||1838||8||3.752||Connects to the East Coast Main Line south of Doncaster|
|Wakefield Westgate||Wakefield, West Yorkshire||grid reference||1867||2||2.519||Connects with the East Coast Main Line south of Wakefield Westgate|
|Leeds||Leeds, West Yorkshire||grid reference||1938||17||29.724||Leeds City lines|
|Railway Structure||Length||Distance from London St Pancras International||ELR||Location|
|East Bank Tunnel||80 yards (73 m)||158 miles 05 chains - 158 miles 01 chains||TJC1||South of Sheffield station|
|Bradway Tunnel||1 mile 266 yards (1,853 m)||153 miles 61 chains - 152 miles 49 chains||North of Dronfield station|
|Unstone Viaduct (River Drone)||6 chains (120 m)||149 miles 75 chains - 149 miles 69 chains||Between Dronfield and Chesterfield stations|
|Former Broomhouse Tunnel|
|Whitting Moor Road Viaduct||148 miles 45 chains|
|Alfreton Tunnel||840 yards (770 m)||135 miles 50 chains - 135 miles 11 chains (via Toton)||TCC||Erewash Valley Line between Alfreton and Langley Mill stations|
|Cromford Canal||132 miles 67 chains (via Toton)|
|Erewash Canal||128 miles 09 chains (via Toton)||Erewash Valley Line south of Langley Mill station|
|Clay Cross Tunnel||1 mile 24 yards (1,631 m)||147 miles 22 chains - 146 miles 21 chains||SPC8||Between Chesterfield and Belper stations|
|River Amber||140 miles 40 chains|
|Wingfield Tunnel||261 yards (239 m)||139 miles 59 chains - 139 miles 47 chains|
|Toadmoor Tunnel||129 yards (118 m)||138 miles 12 chains - 138 miles 07 chains|
|River Derwent / Broadholme Viaducts||6 chains (120 m),
7 chains (140 m)
|136 miles 47 chains - 136 miles 41 chains, 136 miles 18 chains - 136 miles 11 chains|
|Swainsley Viaduct (River Derwent)||4 chains (80 m)||134 miles 61 chains - 134 miles 57 chains||Between Belper and Duffield stations|
|Milford Tunnel||855 yards (782 m)||134 miles 25 chains - 133 miles 67 chains|
|Burley Viaduct (River Derwent)||4 chains (80 m)||131 miles 58 chains - 131 miles 54 chains||Between Duffield and Derby stations|
|Nottingham Road Viaduct||3 chains (60 m)||128 miles 43 chains - 128 miles 40 chains|
|River Derwent Viaduct||3 chains (60 m)||128 miles 06 chains - 128 miles 03 chains|
|Trent Viaduct||11 chains (220 m)||119 miles 08 chains - 118 miles 77 chains||SPC6||Between Long Eaton and East Midlands Parkway station|
|Redhill Tunnels||154 yards (141 m),
170 yards (160 m)
|118 miles 74 chains - 118 miles 66 chains|
|River Soar||112 miles 74 chains||SPC5||Between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough stations|
|Flood openings||2 chains (40 m)||112 miles 60 chains - 112 miles 58 chains|
|Hermitage Brook Flood Openings||3 chains (60 m)||111 miles 41 chains - 111 miles 38 chains||South of Loughborough station|
|River Soar||109 miles 55 chains||North of Barrow-upon-Soar station|
|River Wreak||104 miles 60 chains||South of Sileby station|
|Knighton Tunnel||104 yards (95 m)||98 miles 07 chains - 98 miles 02 chains||SPC4||South of Leicester station|
|Knighton Viaduct||4 chains (80 m)||97 miles 34 chains - 97 miles 30 chains|
|Wellingborough Viaducts (River Ise)||6 chains (120 m)||64 miles 57 chains - 64 miles 51 chains||SPC2||South of Wellingborough station|
|Irchester Viaducts (River Nene)||7 chains (140 m)||63 miles 67 chains - 63 miles 60 chains|
|Sharnbrook Tunnel (Slow line only)||1 mile 100 yards (1,701 m)||60 miles 04 chains - 59 miles 00 chains||WYM||Between Wellingborough and Bedford stations|
|Sharnbrook Viaducts||9 chains (180 m)||56 miles 25 chains - 56 miles 16 chains||SPC2|
|Radwell Viaducts||143 yards (131 m)||55 miles 03 chains - 54 miles 76½ chains|
|Milton Ernest Viaducts||8 chains (160 m)||54 miles 25 chains - 54 miles 17 chains|
|Oakley Viaducts||6 chains (120 m)||53 miles 35 chains - 53 miles 29 chains|
|Clapham Viaducts (River Ouse)||6 chains (120 m)||52 miles 04 chains - 51 miles 78 chains|
|Bromham Viaducts (River Ouse)||7 chains (140 m)||50 miles 79 chains - 50 miles 72 chains|
|River Great Ouse Viaduct||5 chains (100 m)||49 miles 38 chains - 49 miles 33 chains||SPC1||Between Bedford and Flitwick stations|
|Ampthill Tunnels||715 yards (654 m)||42 miles 52 chains - 42 miles 19 chains|
|Hyde/Chiltern Green Viaduct (River Lea)||6 chains (120 m)||26 miles 72 chains - 26 miles 66 chains||South of Luton Airport Parkway station|
|Elstree Tunnels||1,058 yards (967 m)||12 miles 06 chains - 11 miles 38 chains||South of Elstree & Borehamwood station|
|Stoneyfield/Deans Brook Viaduct||4 chains (80 m)||10 miles 36 chains - 10 miles 32 chains||Between Elstree & Borehamwood and Hendon stations|
|Welsh Harp/Brent Viaduct (River Brent)||10 chains (200 m)||6 miles 31 chains - 6 miles 21 chains||South of Hendon station|
|Belsize Slow Tunnel||1 mile 107 yards (1,707 m)||3 miles 34 chains - 2 miles 29 chains||Between West Hampstead Thameslink and Kentish Town stations|
|Belsize Fast Tunnel||1 mile 11 yards (1,619 m)||3 miles 32 chains - 2 miles 33 chains|
|Lismore Circus Tunnel||110 yards (100 m)||2 miles 22 chains - 2 miles 17 chains|
|Hampstead Tunnel||44 yards (40 m)||1 mile 76 chains - 1 mile 74 chains|
|Camden Road Tunnels||308 yards (282 m)||1 miles 13 chains - 0 miles 79 chains||South of Kentish Town station|
|Canal Tunnels||820 yards (750 m)||0 miles 0 chains - 0 miles 0 chains||Connecting to ECML at Belle Island Junction|
|Name / Type||Line||Location (distance from St. Pancras)||Engineers Line Reference|
|Dore HABD (out of use?)||Down Main||154 miles 72 chains||TJC1|
|Belper HABD (to replace Duffield HABD)||Up Main||134 miles 70 chains||SPC8|
|Duffield Junction HABD (removal planned)||Up Main||132 miles 63 chains|
|Langley Mill HABD||Up Erewash Fast, Up & Down Erewash Slow||129 miles 27 chains||TCC|
|Loughborough HABD||Up Fast, Up Slow||111 miles 05 chains||SPC5|
|Barrow-upon-Soar HABD||Down Fast, Down Slow||108 miles 72 chains|
|Thurmaston Wheelchex||Down Fast, Up Fast, Up & Down Slow||101 miles 78 chains|
|East Langton HABD||Down Main, Up Main||86 miles 20 chains||SPC3|
|Harrowden Junction HABD||Down Fast, Up & Down Slow||67 miles 36 chains|
|Oakley HABD||Up Fast, Up Slow||53 miles 60 chains||SPC2|
|Chiltern Green HABD||Down Fast, Down Slow||27 miles 69 chains||SPC1|
|Napsbury HABD||Up Fast, Up Slow||18 miles 00 chains|
For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway
The line was once the Midland Railway's route from London St Pancras to Manchester, branching at Ambergate Junction along the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway, now known as the Derwent Valley line. In days gone by, it featured named expresses such as The Palatine. Much later in the twentieth century, it carried the Midland Pullman.
|Town/City||Station||Ordnance Survey |
|Matlock Bath||Matlock Bath|
|Closed section stations|
|Darley Dale||Darley Dale|
|Great Longstone||Great Longstone for Ashford|
|Monsal Dale||Monsal Dale|
|Millers Dale||Millers Dale|
|Blackwell Mill||Blackwell Mill|
|Peak Forest||Peak Forest|
|Now part of the Hope Valley line or other lines|
|Bugsworth||Buxworth (Now Closed)|
|New Mills||New Mills Central|
|Belle Vue/Gorton||Belle Vue|
|Stockport||Stockport Tiviot Dale|
|Manchester||Manchester Central (Now Closed)|
This line was closed in the 1960s between Matlock and Buxton, severing an important link between Manchester and the East Midlands, which has never been satisfactorily replaced by any mode of transport. A section of the route remains in the hands of the Peak Rail preservation group, operating between Matlock and Rowsley to the north.
For marketing and franchising, this is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Settle-Carlisle Railway.
World War I prevented the Midland Railway from finishing its direct route through the West Riding to join the Settle and Carlisle (which would have cut six miles from the journey and avoided the need for reversal at Leeds).
The first part of the Midland's West Riding extension from the main line at Royston (Yorks.) to Dewsbury was opened before the war. However, the second part of the extension was not completed. This involved a viaduct at Dewsbury over the River Calder, a tunnel under Dewsbury Moor and a new approach railway into Bradford from the south at a lower level than the existing railway (a good part of which was to be in tunnel) leading into Bradford Midland (or Bradford Forster Square) station.
The 500 yards (460 m) gap between the stations at Bradford still exists. Closing it today would also need to take into account the different levels between the two Bradford stations, a task made easier in the days of electric rather than steam traction, allowing for steeper gradients than possible at the time of the Midland's proposed extension.
Two impressive viaducts remain on the completed part of the line between Royston Junction and Dewsbury as a testament to the Midland's ambition to complete a third direct Anglo-Scottish route. The line served two goods stations and provided a route for occasional express passenger trains before its eventual closure in 1968.
The failure to complete this section ended the Midland's hopes of being a serious competitor on routes to Scotland and finally put beyond all doubt that Leeds, not Bradford, would be the West Riding's principal city. Midland trains to Scotland therefore continued to call at Leeds before travelling along the Aire Valley to the Settle and Carlisle. From Carlisle they then travelled onwards via either the Glasgow and South Western or Waverley Route. In days gone by the line enjoyed named expresses such as the Thames-Clyde Express and The Waverley.
As with most railway lines in Britain, the route used to serve far more stations than it currently does (and consequently passes close to settlements that it no longer serves). Places that the current main line used to serve include
The following on the original North Midland Railway line
Looking south along the Midland Main Line at St Albans
Leeds railway station, a former key reversal point on the Midland Main Line on the route north
A £500m scheme ... Transport Secretary Justine Greening is set to outline plans to complete the electrification of the route from Sheffield to London on Monday.
announcement, expected on Monday, is likely to include a £530m plan to complete electrification of the Midland mainline between Bedford and Sheffield