A group of Derbyshire organisations and individuals are working together to re-establish a passenger rail link between Manchester and the East Midlands, linking the north and south of the county, via the re-instatement of the line from Rowsley to Blackwell, permitting through journeys from Derby to Buxton and Manchester via Bakewell and the Peaks.
Having had a very positive initial response, with expressions of support both locally and nationally, they have now incorporated as a company limited by guarantee – the Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership, or MEMRAP.
Newly appointed chair Robin Greenwood is a well-known community organiser in Matlock. He has long experience of bringing together disparate interests to work together to achieve a common purpose.
He commented: “There are a lot of different interests to take account of in this project, but MEMRAP aims to find a solution that works for everyone. Our aim is to re-open the rail link between Matlock and Buxton for use by passengers, heritage trains and freight traffic. We look forward to working with Peak Rail, local businesses, local politicians, local councils and other stakeholders. One issue we are determined to address is finding a replacement route for the very popular Monsal Trail. The new route must be at least as attractive and accessible as the existing one. We have been exploring the local area and we are confident that this is possible – with the added advantage of enabling people to access the trail by train instead of having to use their cars.”
Director and past Community Rail Partnership Manager Mike Rose added: “This is the missing link in the local rail network, the line’s closure in 1968 meant the loss of a valuable asset to the community. Re-opening the line will provide real benefit to local people and visitors, with improved transport options between towns and villages along the route, better connectivity to Stockport and Manchester and to Derby, Nottingham and the East Midlands, much better access to the national park from north and south and the opportunity to combine cycling or walking with a rail trip for a more enjoyable day out.”
Director John Harpur added: “This is also a fantastic opportunity to significantly reduce carbon emissions. As well as the inherent benefits of rail versus road travel, we are looking at innovative solutions such as battery powered or hydrogen powered trains.”
Local businesses also stand to benefit, as director Stephen Chaytow explains: “We see this as bringing huge benefits to the local economy through better connectivity within the county and beyond. As well as safeguarding the businesses that currently rely on the Monsal Trail, we intend to make sure that other businesses in the towns and villages along the route also benefit.”
As an incorporated body, MEMRAP are now looking to recruit supporters to join them and help realise their objective. For more information, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their next meeting takes place on Wednesday 6th November at the Cheshire Cheese, Buxton at 2pm.