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Peak Rail


RCD’s Overview

Peak Railway operates on a section of the former Midland Railway main line between Manchester Central and London St Pancras, which was closed by British Railways in 1968. Its southern station is on Platform 2 of the main station at Matlock, convenient for network rail connections to Derby and Nottingham. The railway was built across the Derbyshire Peak District, a difficult terrain, resulting in the need for numerous tunnels and viaducts, making it one of the most scenic lines in the country. Today it traverses the Derbyshire countryside from Matlock to its current terminus at Rowsley South, there being aspirations to extend the line to Bakewell. The railway is located in an attractive area popular with tourism, and a visit to it can be combined with other trips, such as the Peak District national park, Chatsworth House and the historic town of Matlock.

The support group is the 'Peak Railway Association' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).


Happening This Month on the Railway

  • Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Matlock to Rowsley South

Principal Visitor Centre:

Matlock (DE4 3NA), Darley Dale (DE4 2EQ) and Rowsley South (DE4 2LF)

Period of Operation*

- April to October (Weekends)

- July (Wednesdays and Weekends)

- December (Special event trains)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Length of Line:

3.5 miles

Services usually steam or diesel?

Steam and diesel (often steam Saturdays, diesel on Sundays)

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Steam locomotives (tank engines), and former main line diesel locomotives

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour 5 minutes

Number of trains per day:

3 in each direction

Number of Stations:

3 stations


Adult Rover: £15: Senior: £10. Child: £5.

Time to allow for Visit:

2 to 3 hours


Yes, at Darley Dale Station



Picnic/Play areas:


Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Free parking at Rowsley South and Darley Dale, pay & display at Matlock.


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- Afternoon Teas                                                                               

Event Trains:

- Santa and Steam Specials: December 

Principal Galas:

- None currently advertised 


- Steam Driver Experience                                                  



Telephone:                                                           07979 496488


Social Media:                                            

                                                                              Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube/ Flickr


Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

The line operates on part of the former Midland Railway main line from London to Manchester via Derby. It was built by several companies in stages over a period of some 20 years. The first section from Ambergate (a junction on the existing Derby to Sheffield railway) to Matlock and Rowsley was completed in 1849. Over time the Midland Railway decided to reach Manchester from its existing centre in Derby, and set about extending the line from Rowsley to Manchester, which it completed in 1860. From that time the line became an important main line, seeing express passenger services to London as well as considerable amounts of freight, especially once the Lancashire coalfields became exhausted and much coal then travelled from the East Midlands coalfields to Lancashire power stations. The line was a duplication of other cross-Pennine routes however the Beeching Report recommended the closure of other cross-Pennine lines and the retention of the Manchester - Derby route. This was reversed in 1968 when it was decided to retain the Manchester - Sheffield line via Hope Valley, and instead close the Derby - Manchester line north of Matlock. The line north of Matlock closed later that year.

The process of preservation was long and complex. A number of societies were formed following closure and in 1975 the Peak Railway Preservation Society was established and opened a site at the former Midland Railway Buxton Station creating a Steam Centre. Its aim to extend and operate a line from the Centre along an existing freight line towards Millers Dale and the Peak Forest were frustrated by British Rail, and by the mid-1980s a decision was made to relocate efforts on the Matlock- Rowsley section of line, with new headquarters at Darley Dale. In 1991 the railway reopened the section of line between Matlock Riverside and Darley Dale, and later extended to Rowsley in 1997.


Principal Aspiration

To extend the line from Rowsley to Bakewell.


[Note: The following motive power sections are summaries, there being numerous railway/locomotive preservation/engineering groups that are based at this railway (see ‘Information on Other Societies’ below)].


Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) GWR Class 4500 2-6-2T - No. 5553

(2) Robert Stephenson Hawthorn 0-4-0 - No. 15 ‘Eustace Forth’


Diesel Operational Locomotives/DMU:

(1) BR Class 25 - No. D7659

(2) BR Class 44 - No. D8 ‘Penyghent’

(3) Large collection of former BR and industrial shunters


Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) GWR Class 5205 2-8-0T - No. 5224

(2) Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST RSH - No. 7136


Diesel Locomotives/DMU Under Overhaul:

(1) BR Class 04 shunter - D2205

(2) BR Class 06 shunter - 06003

(3) BR Class 08 shunter - 08830 

(4) BR Class 14 - D9525

(5) BR Class 50 - No.50030 ‘Repulse’


Awaiting Overhaul or Restoration:

- GWR Class 5600 0-6-2T - No. 6634



- BR Class 46 - 46035 (D172) ‘Ixion’

- Large collection of former BR and industrial shunters


Note there are a number of means of supporting the railway, in particular through its operating company (Peak Rail plc) and though its supporting group, (the Peak Railway Association). As to the operating company, shares may be purchased from Peak Rail plc. Share revenue is considered important to Peak Rail in progressing the development of the railway, such as extending the line and purchasing assets for use on the railway. Shareholders are entitled to certain travel benefits.


Name of Support Group:

Peak Railway Association

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £16. Senior: £12. Junior: £10



See website for list of email addresses


Benefits of membership:                                  

-          Up to 4 days free travel per year, with 50% discount on all subsequent travel (except for Special Events and Palatine Restaurant Car)

-          Discount (10%) off certain items in Peak Rail shops

-          Magazine, The Peak Express, issued three times a year

-          Participate in meetings of one of the branches (see below)


The Association has five branches, in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derwent Valley, Derby and Buxton. Branches meet about once a month for talks, slide shows etc and often organise various fundraising activities and attend events across the country to promote Peak Rail.


How to Join:             Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

Peak Rail is operated primarily by a dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers, who volunteer their time to ensure that the railway operates throughout the year whatever the weather. Volunteering on a heritage railway can use every skill known to the human hand. All railway’s use skills in every department that you will find in the common workplace, but don’t worry if you’re not sure about the idea of doing your day job as a volunteer, there are plenty of other roles that you could participate in.


How to Volunteer:               Go to


How to Donate:                   Go to


WHY JOIN: Help the railway extend to Bakewell.


Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Locomotive and Engineering:

- Derwent and Wye Valley Railway Trust

- Heritage Shunters Trust

- LMS Carriage Association

- Pete Waterman Heritage Trust

- Ashover Light Railway

- North Notts Locomotive Group

- Renown Repulse Restoration Group

- Andrew Briddon Locos


Traditional Railway Societies:

- Peak Railway Association branches

- Midland Railway Society

- LMS Society

- Matlock Railway Club


Model Railway Clubs:

- Little Midland Society, Chesterfield

- Belper Model Railway Group                         

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