Author Archives: admin

Buxton site re-opens for work

Following a health and safety assessment with regard to Covid-19 the Buxton Site reopened for volunteer work on 2nd June. With no enclosed spaces at Buxton our working procedures are mainly related to safe distancing. All volunteers who go on to the site are given a copy of the new procedures before the start of each day.

As you may be aware the access to the site is through the McCarthy & Stone development. At present they have not restarted their development. We have a set of keys for the main gates and this allows us to park safely when on site.

Before the close down McCarthy & Stone removed a stretch of galvanised security fencing about 60 metres long. Not wanting to see an opportunity go to waste I asked if Peak Rail could have the fencing and was pleased when they agreed. With the help of volunteers, the fencing has been removed to a member’s fabrication business where we can refurbish it before we install it on our southern boundary.

For the last 5 weeks Graham Wood, Phil Capp and myself have been on site repairing the wire chain link fence to our northern boundary. The section near to the bridge was damaged in several places over the years with people trying to gain access to our site. This has now been repaired and topped off with 3 strands of barbed wire.

The neighbours land to our northern boundary had been used for a temporary store for spoil. Some of this had damaged sections of our fencing but now most of it has been repaired and a few more weeks will see this work completed.

When we first went back on site in January there was evidence that some people had been living there in a tent. Our clearance of the site before lock down seemed to have stopped casual visitors however when we restarted, I noticed the space under the platform for the water tower valves had been used. The steel door to this had long gone. The workshop at Rowsley is currently making a new door which we hope to fit soon.

Inevitable at this time of year things start to grow and with the recent rain it is now becoming quite noticeable how the weeds are coming back. Hopefully we can start on this soon so that it doesn’t get out of hand.

Our next major activity on site will be the erection of the security fencing to the southern boundary. As I mentioned earlier this is galvanised steel fencing. This will involve levelling some ballast at the top of the embankment and digging the post holes. If you have some time available to help out please let me know.

Gordon Caro

Permanent Way Update 19/06/20

Having completed a full inspection of the line over the last few weeks my notes indicate a significant amount of work required. Near Bridge 35 a damaged fence is evidence of trespass onto the track. At Statham’s Crossing both gates have been damaged. One replacement will come from the pair removed when the Arc Crossing was upgraded for the Multi User Trail. The other gate is 4ft wider and a replacement will be ordered from a farm supplier. The farmer concerned has been informed that once replaced these gates must be locked at all times except when access is required. At the footpath crossing just south of Rowsley site a wooden gate has been badly damaged and must be repaired or replaced. On Point 8B, part of Rowsley South Crossover, a casting under the Crossing Nose has a fracture in it. Luckily a replacement exists on the Crossing Nose taken out of Point 5, Darley Dale South Yard, when it was renewed in November 2017. This will be disassembled to release the required casting. In the meantime the fractured casting will be monitored. All these jobs need to take place before the WTT resumes.

Over the last week work has continued to address the growth of vegetation. Stuart has spent time clearing the flourishing vegetation from Darley Dale Level Crossing to well beyond the footpath crossing in Red House Cutting. This has included attention to the sight lines for the footpath crossing required by loco crews for safety reasons. Stuart has also spent time working around Church Lane.

At Rowsley South the points on the running line, loop, loading dock and engine shed roads have been cleaned and greased by Phil and Jonah. John has completed the cutting to size of reclaimed concrete slabs to fit as covers for the drain in Red House Cutting. These are now stored on the Works Train awaiting its next foray down the line. Once the slabs have been dropped off and fitted the remaining branches cut down before Lockdown in Red House Cutting will be collected for disposal at Rowsley. Over recent weeks John and Phil have been tidying up Red House Cutting in preparation for this removal.

Ian and I have started to gauge the main running line, at the same time monitoring cross levels. We have also taken the opportunity to clean and tidy up the Mess/Tool Coach.

Before Lockdown the Mess/Tool Coach had been completely re-wired with the help of Ian and funded by the Peak Railway Association. I mentioned in a Peak Express P-Way report that the two existing Works Train generators needed replacing for Health and Safety reasons. Thanks to a generous donation by Richard Newman, a new volunteer to the Steam Loco Dept, the Works Train now has an almost new 10 Kva generator. This was installed under the Tool/Mess Coach early this year. With new 110v extension leads the generator saw its first sustained use for power tools used in packing joints. This took place over two Sundays in late January/early February when lifting and packing of dip joints took place between the Arc Crossing and Bridge 38. With a good turnout of volunteers, sixteen joints were improved. More would have been achieved had Storm Ciara not intervened on the third Sunday. Also due to poor weather in February and early March plus the CV-19 Lockdown proposed midweek working on this task has had to be postponed. However the generator has proved its worth along with the new protective items like Ear protectors and anti-vibration gloves for volunteers using power tools such as the Kango. The use of power tools to vibrate ballast under the sleepers either side of joints is much more efficient than hand shovel packing.

Roger Hallatt.

Permanent Way News: Re-Opening the Department

On Thursday 28th May the P-Way Dept re-opened for the first time since Lockdown had been introduced and Peak Rail operations suspended. The return could only take place after careful consideration of the risks involved and how these could be managed. The starting point of the process was the ORR publication of their Inspection Guidance on Heritage Railway Recovery Plan in Response to Covid-19. I decided to formulate a Re-Opening Plan for the P-Way Dept based on the ORR document. It seemed that the two key factors to consider were guidelines regarding Covid-19 for volunteers and that there had been no P-Way activity for two months. The first part of the Plan looked at mitigating probable risks to Volunteers returning to P-Way duties from Covid-19. The draft plan was then emailed to the regular members of the P-Way team for their consideration. All were happy with the proposed procedures and the Plan was forwarded to the Office at Matlock. With approval of the Plan from the Office I phoned all the team to gather their opinion on when to re-open.

No sooner had we all met up the normal banter began. Yet not everything would be normal starting with us all meeting up outside the Mess Coach and observing Social Distancing. With the insults to each other out of the way it was down to business with a Health and Safety review. This involved not just Personal Track Safety but also issues around Covid-19. Everyone was reminded to keep to the piece of equipment they were using for the day and to keep using the hand sanitizer gel. Thanks to my daughter I had acquired two 300ml pump action bottles of hand sanitizer and several 50ml. All were 65% alcohol based. She had also provided face masks. The Office had provided disposable gloves and anti bacterial hand-wash. So the main point of the briefing was to remember personal hygiene and keep to the Social Distancing. It is worth pointing out that a key element of mitigation against Covid-19 for the team is working outdoors. After further insults, mostly hurled in my direction, it was down to work. Phil set about burning the branches brought back to Rowsley from vegetation removed in Red House Cutting in late February. Stuart set off to strim the Savannah Grassland that had developed on the track formation at Church Lane. (see photos) John started to cut concrete slabs to a size to fit as drain covers in Red House Cutting.

Ian and I set off for a Track Inspection from Bridge 37 to 35 and return. This also involved a visual inspection of bridges and the embankment. It has to be remembered that the embankment here had been under water due to flooding and more recently subjected to drought conditions so requires on-going monitoring as does the track formation on top.

That evening I contacted the team by email with several questions to obtain their view of the day. All thought the day went well, were happy with the procedures put in place and most importantly felt safe.

The following Thursday saw the team in action again. Phil continued his bonfire activities whilst Stuart went for a strim. John spent his time in Red House Cutting tidying up the vegetation cut down in late February/early March. This material will be collected when the Works Train eventually makes its way down the line. Ian and I walked from Rowsley to Church Lane on a Track Inspection and on the return began track gauging.

Last Sunday I walked from Darley Dale to Bridge 37 and return then to Church Lane and back. With this the whole line has now been inspected. Quite a few notes were made of the maintenance required over the coming weeks. At the same time the whole line will need to be gauged as per the requirement of the SMS. By the end of the month I hope to be fishplate greasing from Bridge 36 to 38.


Roger Hallatt


The Permanent Way Dept and the Winter Storms

Serious flooding occurred on Friday 8th November throughout the Derwent Valley in response to heavy rainfall over many days on a saturated catchment area. During the morning I received a phone call from the Office making me aware of the situation and that peak flow would be around midday. I decided upon seeing the situation for myself and parked at Darley Dale Station. Continue reading

A Message from the Chair 26/5/2020

Dear Member.

Had you received the latest edition of Peak Express, which has been severely delayed due to the Covid-19 restrictions, my Chair Report would have included a brief resume of the AGM of the Peak Railway Association Ltd (PRA). This took place on Saturday 8th February at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale. So I’ve decided to include some of the proceedings in this message.

53 members attended in person with all 8 current Directors present and there were 48 valid Proxy votes. All the resolutions on the Agenda were passed including the reappointment of directors Mick Bond and Harold Davenport. The Resolution to consider the Accounts for the year ended 31/05/19 raised a number of questions from several members. It was asked why income had fallen by roughly £14000. It was explained that much of the reduction in membership receipts (£6000) would be because of the timing of the publication of Peak Express. It being through Peak Express that membership renewals and reminders are distributed to members. The removal of free travel for PRA members by Peak Rail Plc had caused a very small number not to renew their membership. Another issue is that a significant number of people have taken advantage of the discount on 5 year membership so therefore are not renewing annually. Sadly there has also been an increase in the number of deaths being notified. It should be noted that membership receipts have been very buoyant in the current financial period. There were two other significant declines in income that need to be mentioned. Firstly, the donations received from PRA Branches fell by £4250. This is wholly down to a large donation from the Sheffield Branch of £5000 in August 2017, therefore occurring in the previous financial period ending 31/05/18, towards the renewal of Darley Dale Level Crossing. Secondly, receipts from the Annual Raffle were down by nearly £3700 on the previous year. Unfortunately this is a trend that has continued with the latest raffle at the end of 2019 with receipts down another £2500 to £5100. The reasons for this are very clear. Due to General Data Protection requirements the PRA can no longer send raffle tickets to Peak Rail Plc shareholders. This has reduced income by some £3000-4000. Also there has been a drop in receipts from PRA members who receive raffle tickets to sell via Peak Express. There have also been fewer volunteers prepared to sell raffle tickets on the train. With 50% of total sales coming from the Santa Special season this has had a real impact. The 2018 raffle raised £7800 towards refurbishing the carriages on Peak Rail. This has mainly been used to purchase cloth for recovering the seats in two Mk 1 carriages plus a set of batteries, costing £1800, for another. The seat covers on the Mk 1’s had become very tatty and the refurbishment has dramatically improved their appearance which is important to visitors.

It is interesting to note that no member asked about what the £9192 under the heading Projects had actually been spent on. £3760 went to purchase new Crossing Timbers to replace life expired ones. £420 went on CCTV provision at Church Lane Signal Box. This was in response to volunteer safety being put at risk by road vehicles moving through the level crossing whilst the gates were being opened and closed. The CCTV has removed this problem. Yet another positive not mentioned was the £3371 provided for the restoration of the LMS Brake Van, as reported on in the last edition of Peak Express.

I’ll cover some of the issues that arose under General Discussion future updates.

Roger Hallatt

2019: Buxton PRA Branch Reforms

Late in 2019 the Buxton branch of Peak Railway Association was re-formed. The intention as well as providing a social venue throughout the year is to regenerate the land owned by Peak Rail Plc and open a new station. Continue reading

A Message from the Chair – 12/5/20

Dear Member,

Following on from my recent message I thought it time to give a further update.

Pete Waller, the Membership Secretary, is currently in the process of sending out renewal letters to members. These apply to members whose membership expires between March and May. Continue reading

Permanent Way News: Crossing Noses

In Peak Express last year I reported that two Crossing Noses were giving cause for concern as they were becoming badly worn. These were Peak Rail points 4 and 7. Point 4 being immediately south of Bridge 35 at Matlock Riverside and Point 7 at the north end of the loop between Darley Dale and Church Lane. Continue reading

A Message from the Chair – 4/5/20

Who would have thought at the start of the New Year that life, as we’ve known it, would change so dramatically in such a short period of time? Interesting too how new terminology has quickly entered everyday vocabulary, such as ‘Social Distancing’. How are you coping? I hope that you are well and have avoided Covid-19. Continue reading

PRA Meetings Postponed

PRA meetings have been postponed:

  • Chesterfield Branch  –  Tuesday 17 March  –  Ken Horan
  • Derwent Valley Branch  –  Tuesday 24 March  –  Ken Grainger
  • Sheffield Branch  –  Mon 6 April  –  Paul Shackcloth
  • Buxton Branch – Thursday 9 April – Gavin Lake

Palatine Restaurant Car Operating Dates

The Palatine Restaurant Car ONLY operates on the coloured dates (as shown)

Steam Experience Operating Calendar


All services are currently suspended due to Coronavirus.

Rowsley South (Depart)1100121413281442
Darley Dale (Arrive)1105121913331447
Darley Dale (Depart)1107122113351449
Matlock Platform 2 (Arrive)1122123613501504
Matlock Platform 2 (Depart)1132124614001514
Darley Dale (Arrive)1147130114151529
Darley Dale (Depart)1149130314171531
Rowsley South (Arrive)1154130814221536
Rowsley South (Depart)11001214132814421556
Darley Dale (Arrive)11051219133314471601
Darley Dale (Depart)11071221133514491603
Matlock Platform 2 (Arrive)11221236135015041618
Matlock Platform 2 (Depart)11321246140015141628
Darley Dale (Arrive)11471301141515291643
Darley Dale (Depart)11491303141715311645
Rowsley South (Arrive)11541308142215361651

Peak Rail Operating Calendar

In attempt to help contain the Coronavirus outbreak Peak Rail have suspended all services until further notice.

Please note Peak Rail is only open on the event dates shown.  If a date is blank then Peak Rail is closed and there will be no trains on that day.