Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Midland Main Line
The line links London (St Pancras) to Sheffield (Midland Station) in northern England, but also links other important population centres including Luton, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester (London Road), Loughborough, Long Eaton, Derby, Beeston, Nottingham and Chesterfield. There are plans to build a station on the line to service Nottingham East Midlands Airport.
The line between St Pancras and Bedford is electified, and is used for Thameslink commuter trains.
The express services on the line are currently operated by a company called Midland Mainline.
The Midland Main line was built in stages between the 1830s and the 1860s. The first part of the line was built by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and its subsidiary the Stonebridge Railway from Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire, on the London and Birmingham Railway, to Derby. This section opened on 12th August, 1839. This was followed on 1st July, 1840, by the North Midland Railway which ran from Derby to Leeds Hunslet Lane Station via Chesterfield, Swinton , Rotherham Masborough Station (from where the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway ran a branch to Sheffield Wicker Station), and Normanton. This avoided Sheffield, Barnsley, and Wakefield in order to reduce gradients.
On the same day in 1840, the Midland Counties Railway, which ran from Derby to Leicester, was extended from Leicester (its previous Campbell Street Station being replaced by the current London Road Station) to a temporary station on the northern outskirts of Rugby. A few months later, the Rugby viaduct was finished and the Midland Counties Railway reached the London and Birmingham's Rugby Station. This cut 11 miles off the former route via Hampton-in-Arden. Resultantly, the Stonebridge Railway lost all importance, was soon singled, and closed in 1917 as a wartime economy, thus becoming the first main line in Britain to close. Its parent company, the Birmingham and Derby Junction, survived, reached Birmingham Lawley Street Station in 1842, and is now part of the Cross-Country InterCity route from Birmingham to the North-East.
When these three companies merged to form the Midland Railway on 10th May 1844, the Midland did not have its own route to London, and instead, relied upon a junction at Rugby with the London and Birmingham's line (the London and Birmingham became part of the London and North Western Railway on 1st January, 1846) to London Euston for passage to the capital.
By the 1850s the junction at Rugby had become severely congested, and so the Midland Railway constructed a route from Leicester to Hitchin on the Great Northern Railway via Bedford. The route of the line avoids Northampton, a major town south of Leicester, instead going via Kettering and Wellingborough in the east of Northamptonshire. This line met with similar problems as the former alignment had at Rugby, so in 1868 a line was opened from Bedford via Luton to London St Pancras.
The final stretch of what is considered to be the modern Midland Main Line was a short cut-off from Chesterfield to Sheffield, which opened in 1870.
London to Trent Junction
- London St Pancras
- West Hampstead
- St Albans
- Luton Airport Parkway
- Luton Town
- Bedford (Thameslink services and electrification end here.)
- Kettering North Junction: formerly services to Corby and Melton Mowbray, from which both Leicester and Nottingham could be reached via an alternative route
- Wigston South Junction
- At Trent Junction, the line splits into three, with lines to Derby, Nottingham and Erewash Valley
Trent Junction via Derby
- Rejoins with Nottingham line.
Trent Junction via Erewash Valley Line
- Langley Mill
Trent Junction via Nottingham
- trains often reverse to join the Erewash Valley Line
This is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line, but see Settle-Carlisle Railway for more information. World War I prevented the Midland from finishing its direct route (avoiding reversal at Leeds) to join the Settle and Carlisle. The 500yd gap at Bradford still exists today. 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 town.
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