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Fresh look at historic rail route

Tuesday 11 April 2017

New interpretation board at the former Woodhead StationIt was once a major cross-Pennine rail route, steam trains packed with freight or passengers thundering through Peak District tunnels at regular intervals.

Now walkers and cyclists can learn more about the Woodhead Route and its three tunnels, thanks to an improved interpretation panel.

The new panel has been installed close to the platform of the former Woodhead station, which now forms part of the Trans Pennine trail.

It follows work by the National Grid to install replacement cables in tunnel 3, which was built in the 1950s. As part of the work, the entrances to two mid-19th century tunnels were sealed and the former station area improved.

The National Grid funded infrastructure works and the interpretation panel, which was installed by the Peak District National Park’s countryside maintenance team.

Ken Smith, cultural heritage manager at the Peak District National Park said: “The Woodhead Route was a busy railway for nearly 150 years. It was a very important rail link between Sheffield and Manchester.

“The earlier tunnels were used much more heavily than was originally expected, with up to 250 steam trains travelling each way, every day.

“Now the trail is well-loved by walkers and cyclists. The work undertaken by the National Grid gave us the opportunity to refresh our interpretation panel, part of the Trans Pennine Trail. If folk use their imagination they can really relate to how it would once have been.”

When completed in 1845, the first Woodhead tunnel was one of the world’s longest railway tunnels at three miles and 13 yards (4840m)

In 1954, an electrified double-track tunnel replaced the twin tunnels. Passenger services closed in 1970 and freight services in 1981.

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