Site of former Coalville Town station in 1988
|Closed||1964 to passenger services|
|Number of tracks||Single and Double|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
Burton upon Trent line
The Leicester–Burton upon Trent line is a freight-only railway line in England linking the Midland Main Line south of Leicester to the Cross Country Route at Burton-on-Trent. The line closed to passengers in the 1960s, since when various proposals have been made to reopen it.
The first part of the line opened in 1832 as the Leicester and Swannington Railway, which carried the products of collieries and quarries along the route to Leicester and the River Soar. The Midland Railway took over the line in 1845 and opened an extension in 1848 from a junction west of Coalville Town to join the rest of the Midland's system at Leicester Junction just south of Burton-on-Trent. This bypassed the Swannington Incline, which had a steep 1 in 17 gradient and was worked by a stationary steam engine.
In 1849 the Midland opened a new line from a junction east of Desford to Knighton Junction on the Midland Main Line south of Leicester, thus bypassing the narrow Glenfield Tunnel and completing a route between Leicester and Burton that could carry trains built to the Midland's standard loading gauge.
Most passenger trains were taken over by diesel units from 14 April 1958, taking about 66 minutes from Leicester to Burton. The passenger service from Leicester to Burton was withdrawn six years later, on 7 September 1964.
The Midland diverted another section of the line from its original Leicester and Swannington alignment, between Merry Lees and Bardon Hill. The new alignment bypassed the 1 in 29 Bagworth incline that had been worked by a stationary engine, so that locomotives could now haul trains over the entire route between Leicester and Burton.
Collieries at Ellistown, Nailstone, Ibstock, Moira, Gresley, Swadlincote, Woodville, Netherseal and Bardon provided mainly coal. The massive power station at Drakelow just outside Burton was a major consumer of coal from these collieries. More recently roadstone, gravel and granite have become the norm. Railway operations around these locations are covered in detail in Anthony Gregory's Life on the Leicester Line, an autobiographical account of his experiences as a freight locomotive driver in the 1980s and 1990s.
Coalville Town was the busiest stop on the line and had collieries at Whitwick and Snibston. A less busy but more fashionable stop was Ashby de la Zouch, an historic spa town with connections to Lord Hastings.
In 1851 the Midland built branches from the line to Swadlincote and Wooden Box. In 1868 Wooden Box was renamed Woodville and in 1883–84 the Midland built an extension to the Swadlincote branch to Woodville, which included digging the 307 yards (281 m) Woodville tunnel. The two branches thus became the Swadlincote Loop.
As of 2015[update], the line sees regular stone trains from the quarries at Stud Farm (near Markfield) and Bardon Hill. At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line's remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.
Nevertheless, in the 1990s BR planned to restore passenger services to the Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line as the second phase of its Ivanhoe Line project. However, after the privatisation of British Rail in 1995 this phase of the project was discontinued.
In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.'s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.
In February 2017 it was announced that ultra-cheap no-frills trains would be tested on Britain's railways in order to reopen certain lines closed during the Beeching Axe of 1963. The Burton to Leicester Line was included in the proposals.
In December 2018 a campaign was founded to restore passenger trains to the line. It initially called itself the Ivanhoe Line Support Group. By May 2019 it had won the support of local MPs Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire), Andrew Griffiths (Burton) and Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire). In July 2019 Derbyshire County Council, Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council all pledged funds to support the group, which is now called the Campaign to Reopen the Ivanhoe Line (CRIL).
In November 2019, it was announced a feasibility study would be taken out in the new year on potential reopening of the line. It is hoped it would be completed by the end of 2020. It was announced by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on 23rd May 2020 that the line would be one of ten schemes shortlisted for further business case development as part of the Government's 'Restoring Your Railways Fund', to reverse cuts made as a result of the Beeching Report.
- "`". The Railway Magazine. June 1958. p. 432.
- Gregory, Anthony (2003). Life on the Leicester Line: The Progress of a Train Driver. Burton: P Way Publishing.
- Baumgartner, 1996, Chapter 2
- Baumgartner, 1996, Chapter 1
- Deaves, Phil (5 October 2011). "Locations beginning Q–Z". Railway Tunnel Lengths. Phil Deaves.
- "Realtime Trains, advanced search at Bagworth Junction".
- "Connecting Communities – Expanding Access to the Rail Network" (PDF). London: Association of Train Operating Companies. June 2009. p. 19. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- Paton, Graeme (11 February 2017). "No-frills mini trains offer route to reopening lines that Beeching shut". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "The case for expanding the rail network" (PDF). Campaign for Better Transport. 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Major railway line linking Burton to Leicester could reopen". Derby Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. 17 December 2018. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Action group forms to reopen historic railway line". Derby Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. 25 January 2019. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "MPs throw their weight behind reopening of historic railway to passengers". Derby Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. 28 May 2019. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Move to reopen historic railway line to passengers gets major new backing". Derby Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. 12 July 2019. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Bid to reopen Burton to Leicester railway line takes a big step forward". Derby Telegraph. Trinity Mirror. 12 July 2019. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- RAIL Issue 892 p.28
- "Restoring Your Railway Fund". GOV.UK. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
- Baumgartner, Peter (1996). Memories of 'The Swad Loop' and Other Railways in the South Derbyshire area. Swadlincote: Dedicated Solutions.
- Stretton, John (2005). No 47: Leicestershire. British Railways Past and Present. Kettering: Silver Link Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85895-198-4.
- Twells, H.N. (1985). A Pictorial Record of the Leicester and Burton Branch Railway. Burton-upon-Trent: Trent Valley Publications. ISBN 0-948131-04-7.
- Gregory, Anthony. (2003). Life on the Leicester Line. Burton-upon-Trent: P-Way Publications. ISBN 0-9543586-0-0.
Media related to Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line at Wikimedia Commons