This exciting project was started in 2009 and saw 10 miles of former cross-country and freight line reinstated and relaid as part of Network Rail's testing facility to test and trial new train and plant equipment.

Since opening it has seen huge changes and has had massive interest from other train and freight operating companies.

The line runs from Shirebrook Junction/cutting to Tuxford and was extended to the site of the former High Marnham power station, where a new crossover was installed (I installed the stretcher bars and hand levers).

The actual main signing in point and welfare facilities are situated in Tuxford at Lodge Lane industrial estate, where also new overhead dummy lines have been installed for testing purposes. Dummy third and fourth rails have also been installed at Ollerton.

At  Tuxford, several new lines have been installed towards the ECML, although they will not be connected to it. These are used for brake and sandite testing due to the nature of the steep incline.

As the line develops, it may see the line connected to the ECML in the future, but with capacity on the East Coast being so high, I think they would rather use the Shirebrook end connection as the entrance point.

It is primarily controlled between Shirebrook, Clipstone and Thoresby signalboxes, where at Thorseby an Annets key is taken. This is a 'token' to ensure only the person with the key is only allowed access, and no other trains are permitted and it is also used to unlock the many groundframes now used.

New groundframes were being fitted at Boughton and also at Tuxford to access the new sidings. The Bevercotes branch was also in use for a short while, but this has now been lifted.

Dummy overhead line equipment was installed at Ollerton (since removed) by the new overhead line train which will be used on the western region to install new overhead equipment. The train is capable of installing around 30 masts per 7 hour shift, combined to around 4 at the time the East Coast mainline was electrified in the 1980's.

Also a recovered signalbox is being erected in the yard at Tuxford. Eventually old recovered mechanical signals will be installed and connected to it.

A section of line has been upgraded from 50mph to 75mph.

There are many videos on YouTube showing the line in use today.



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Current valid links about the project:

Click on the title to view links

Network Rail's own brochure

Chris Booth's article from the GCR rail society magazine

Rail Herald magazine; new sandite trials (page 6)

Links to other sites with pictures of the line:

Derek Wilson's rail photo's

Companies already using High Marnham to test their equipment:

Click on the names to view (if available)

Stobart Rail

Northern Rail

Quattro Plant

Amey Colas

Volker Rail

Allan J Hargreaves Plant 


Arup (page 11)

and many more!

Below are recent pictures of the developing test facility (pictured November 2012)........

The now impressive entrance to the Centre.

More lines have been added along with dummy overhead wires. The line to the left goes all the way to the site of the former High Marnham power station, passing over the East Coast mainline just a few hundreds yards away.

This building houses specialist plant equipment overnight during testing trials. The black 'arch' on the right is a gauging structure that mimics bridges on the UK rail network, so heights are checked too on new plant and trains.

Two specialist lines of many built on the site. The left hand side is special curved track to test plant round tight bends, and the right hand side is a steep incline which tests the brakes of trains and plant. A sand drag at the bottom is in place to stop potential runaways as the East Coast mainline is just at the bottom. Ironically this area was cleared many years ago for a link line from the ECML (back then the LNER), but was never built.

Another test line is this 'canted' track used for testing the stability of trains and plant.

A double set of ground frame points. Used primarily as trap points to stop runaways, they are also used a testing purposes. A recent trial was carried out at Tuxford where a train equipped with cameras was used to detect missing stretchers. A team from Retford S&T was used to detach them to see if the train cameras would pick up missing stretchers at various speeds, something which was born out of the Grayrigg accident.

Various pictures below showing the building of the site from 2009.......

This was the first new 'Annets' key controlled groundframe to go in at Boughton Junction. I installed and tested the stretchers, lock fender and backdrive system. This junction is where the double line ends and is singled all the way to High Marnham.

This crossover was installed in 2010 at the end of the branch along with a new siding and shunt neck to enable trains to pass each other. 

Dummy third and fourth rail pictured by Chris Booth at Ollerton. 

New sign with instructions to driver.

This great shot shows just how important this line is. Overhead dummy lines were installed at Boughton. This was to test the trains that were to upgrade the West Coast mainline. After successful testing, the lines were taking down.

Picture courtesy of Tom Merrill.