Network Rail is upgrading the Hope Valley railway line between Manchester and Sheffield. Credit: Network Rail Limited.
The upgrade will include the doubling of certain single-track sections along Bamford and Dore. Credit: Zhao Zheming/
The upgrade will let fast moving passenger trains to overtake slow-moving freight trains. Credit: alvarobueno/

The Hope Valley railway line upgrade project will upgrade the existing railway line between Manchester and Sheffield in England.

Being implemented by Network Rail, the project will increase the capacity and connectivity between Manchester and Sheffield.

The UK Government’s Department of Transport approved the Hope Valley railway upgrade in February 2018. Site surveys, including topographical and ground investigation works, began in June 2021.

Construction of the project started in May 2022 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

Objectives of  Hope Valley line upgrade

While most of the Hope Valley route has dual tracks, the route from Dore to Sheffield is a single-track, bi-directional line.

The bottleneck means trains cannot pass each other, especially on the section between Chinley East Junction and Dore West Junction. It delays passenger trains, mainly due to slow-moving freight trains.

The upgrade will build the required infrastructure to enable passenger train services to overtake slow-moving freight trains, thereby enhancing reliability and possibly increasing the number of passenger trains that can run on the route.

The project is expected to remove several bottlenecks along the line and enable it to meet future demand.

The demand for rail travel is projected to grow by 66% in Manchester and by 56% in Sheffield by 2029.

Construction details

Hope Valley Railway line’s upgrade will create new passing facilities and associated railway infrastructure on the route between Bamford and Hathersage, and at Dore. It is being implemented through two work packages including one at Bamford and the other at Dore.

The Bamford package will include the construction of the Bamford Loop, a 1km loop line near the existing railway to allow passenger trains to overtake freight trains. The existing foot crossing at the Hathersage West will be replaced with an overbridge to pave the way for the loop.

The loop will be able to accommodate trains up to 520m long. New embankment and retaining wall structures will be created, along with the widening of an underbridge and several culverts as part of the works to facilitate the loop.

Works under the Dore package will include the extension of the Dore South curve, allowing trains to stop without obstructing other train services along the line.

A second track and a new platform will be built at the Dore and Totley Station while the existing platform will be extended.

The work also includes upgrades to signalling infrastructure along the railway line and the extension of platforms.

Financing for the project

The Hope Valley Line upgrade project is being implemented with an estimated investment of £145m ($181.1m).

In March 2021, the UK Government agreed to invest £137m ($190.3m) in the project.

Contractors involved

Network Rail awarded a contract worth £80m ($111.3m) to a joint venture (JV) between VolkerRail and Story Contracting to deliver the Hope Valley upgrade project in March 2021.

In addition to upgrades along the line, the JV will implement several community-related projects.

Benefits of Hope Valley line upgrade

The current capacity of the Manchester-Sheffield section of the Hope Valley line is two fast passenger trains an hour and one stopping train every two hours.

The upgrade is expected to increase the capacity to three fast trains an hour and one stopping train an hour.

The increased passenger service will also provide more choices of trains potentially serving the routes between Liverpool and Norwich, Liverpool and Leicester, and Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes.