Page updated: 31 January 2011.

The line between Peartree & Normanton, Melbourne Jn and Chellaston West Jn lost its regular passenger service from 22 September 1930 (although it was subsequently used for excursions and for military trains in conjunction with the Melbourne Military Railway). The whole line was redesignated a siding (rather than running line) from 29 June 1969, and the section south-east of the Rolls Royce siding to Chellaston West Jn was taken out of use from 31 December 1973; the section between Melbourne Jn and that siding remained available for supply of aero engine fuel.

With the prospect of diverting from road the workers' traffic to and from factories along the line, the Derbyshire County Council prompted the construction of two new halts - Sinfin North and Sinfin Central - and the re-opening for passenger services of the Peartree - Sinfin Central section of the branch with effect from 4 October 1976, after the line had been converted back to passenger status from 27 September 1976 (see extract from Weekly Operating Notice, inaugural passenger timetable and 1977 publicity leaflet). Although both halts were advertised in the public timetable, North was accessible only from two adjacent factories, not from a public right of way. Unfortunately, it proved too difficult to winkle the workers from their cars and from 11 May 1992 the service was reduced to a nominal single round trip (see passenger timetable), just before 7 a.m. on Monday to Fridays. Because the track circuit equipment on the branch was not compatible with newer multiple units subsequently introduced on services in the area, even this single round trip ceased to run regularly from the timetable change on 17 May 1993.

Thereafter, one round trip remained advertised in the public timetables but such passengers as turned up at Derby station were provided with a taxi (although no-one has explained what became of any unwary traveller who presented themselves at either halt for travel in the other direction!). A formal closure proposal was initiated under the Transport Act 1963 closure process, but the application was withdrawn on 26 May 1994. Stalled for four years, the application was eventually be revived under new legislation and on 21 May 1998 the Rail Regulator decided that closure should be approved - although the two Sinfin halts could not be demolished for ten years lest the service be resuscitated.

However, seven objections to that decision meant that it required Ministerial endorsement before it could be implemented; this endorsement was given by letter of 27 August 1998 (page 1 and page 2) - but with the requirement that the replacement taxi service continue until April 2004. The train operating company, Central Trains, state (letter of 9 June 2003) that the service was "withdrawn from [their] schedule" on 26 September 1998 - but the requirement to continue the taxi service was not finally lifted until another Ministerial authority, given in letter of 23 September 2002.

In the absence of any "with effect from" date being quoted in either Ministerial letter for the decisions conveyed therein, each must be presumed to have taken effect not earlier than the date of the respective letters. Thus one concludes that the "real" withdrawal of "rail" service would have been from 23 September 2002 - albeit at that stage a rail replacement service as no trains were booked after the timetable change of 17 May 1993.

Richard Maund

An abridged earlier version of this article also appeared in Branch Line News no. 953, 6 September 2003 and in Railway & Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 36, October 2003.

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