Midland - Robin Hood Line review 1
11/7/08 Nottingham to Worksop
Cost of ticket: £4.90 (single)
Dept Nottingham: 15.26 Arrive Worksop: 16.33
Distance: 31 miles Weather: raining
Train type: Class 158 Sprinter DMU
Double track (except single track between Bulwell and Kirby-in-Ashfield)
Railway Company: East Midlands Trains
Frequency of Trains: one every hour
The train is half full and it leaves from platform 5a, with a Cross Country unit further down the platform in the "b" section. It pulls out slowly onto the main line past new office blocks and industrial units. After about a mile the train leave the main line and pulls off to the right, going past overgrown wasteland on the left hand side. We then meet up with a spur on the left coming from the mainline. We pass a marina on the right and then cross over the canal as we pass more redevelopment on the left and new housing on the right. The line to Langley Mill now leaves us on the left at Radford Junction as we continue northwards. We speed up and then go underneath the Nottingham Express Transit tramline, which then appears next to us on the left hand side. It will run parallel to us for the next few miles right through to Hucknall. We pass Basford tram station on the left and then come to a stop. It is not a station, but rather a red signal and we wait there for a few minutes. Then we go past David Lane tram station and soon after Highbury Vale, where the tramline splits in two to go off to Phoenix Park on the left and stay with us as far as Hucknall. We are still in the Nottingham suburbs and speed up to 60 mph as our track goes from double to single shortly before Bulwell station. There are some light industries here with some out of town shops on the left, and terraced housing on the right. Soon after Moor Bridge tram station, a track goes off on the right to Calverton, which is used as a test track for CE machines.
We move swiftly pass a slower tram on our left as we continue along a single track from Bulwell to Newstead. We go past Butlers Hill tram station then slow for Hucknall tram and railway station. It's open plan with a bus stop and is painted green and yellow in the livery of the Robin Hood line. Two people get on, whilst five get off. We set off again on double track and there is evidence that this was once four tracks wide, with some houses extending their gardens into the disused track area. Further on the old track bed has become a cycle/walk way. We are now finally out into open countryside, which is mainly flat with woodland in the distance on both sides of the track. Wheat is growing with poppies appearing in the middle of the field, whilst the next field is just rough pastureland. We arrive at Newstead station, which has the usual bus stop painted in RHL green and yellow, along with red brick tiles on the floor. A large pub next to the station, the "Station Hotel" looks slightly out of place here in such modern surroundings. The car park is empty apart from a solitary car. There are some light industries round here before the trackside becomes a mass of green shrubbery. On the right hand side an old spoil heap is now covered in trees and bushes. We move into an embankment and then enter the Kirby tunnel. We emerge into another cutting, which gives way to a new housing estate on the right. A freight line on the left joins us and then we slow for Kirby in Ashfield station. It is just the same as the previous station, though this time is deep in a cutting. The line now bends sharply to the right as we pass various factories and warehouses in this industrial landscape. We then stop at Sutton Parkway, which is in the same style and colours as previous stations, except it has a main road going right above the station. There is a nice landscaped park on the left just after the station, in the middle of all the factories. New housing is on the right. Gradually the factories and industrial landscape give way to countryside again, before a large white building appears on the left side, possibly a hospital or college, indicating that we are nearing Mansfield. We pass the football ground on the right before arriving at Mansfield station, which the conductor announces as "Mansfield Town". The original large station building on the left has been restored to its original yellow brick glory, with a celebration plaque prominent by the exit. The station is high above the town and we proceed along a viaduct, which much be around 100 feet above the streets below. We then move into a cutting before emerging at Mansfield Woodhouse where some trains terminate. For some strange reason the two Mansfield stations are painted in a darker shade of green than the rest of the stations on the Robin Hood line. There is a nice yellow brick temple like structure of yellow bricks on the right hand side platform, though sadly it has had graffiti painted on it. There are plenty of houses on the right still, though on the left are fields once more. We seem to only be doing about 20 mph, and then the reason becomes clear, we are passing along a track with quarries on both sides. Once clear of this we speed up to over 60 mph as we pass through a low cutting before stopping at Shirebrook, which is surrounded by red houses and has the derelict remains of its diesel depot on the right. The station building has been restored to its original yellow brick, but is sadly boarded up. As we leave Shirebrook there is signal box on the right, controlling a freight line off to the right to some collieries. We then enter a cutting with sheer rock faces on either side, which lasts a couple of miles, before we speed up to 60 mph. We see houses on both sides of the track once more and stop at Langwith-Whaley Thorns station, the only double-barrelled surname station that I know of on Britain's railways. As usual it has the standard two yellow and green bus stops and nothing else. We move out into open countryside again, this time the scenery is hillier with rolling fields of wheat. We don't travel too far before we stop at Creswell, which once again is a clone station of several others on this line. Sadly the old station building on the eastern platform looks derelict and is cut off from the platform by a fence. There is the original signal box on the left just beyond the platform, which is there for a freight line off to the left. We now go into a cutting and soon after a tunnel, before emerging at Whitwell, the final station on the line before Worksop. The station is identical to many others on the line and someone has made the effort of wiping off the graffiti from one of the bus stops, though this has left a white mess! We pass through another cutting then come out into open countryside, where sheep are grazing in fields on the right, whilst wheat grows in the left hand fields. We then go over the A619 before speeding up to 70 mph as we pass a gravel pit on the left. You can now see the outline of Worksop on the right as we slow down for Woodend Junction as the line splits into two. We take the right hand fork and soon join the Sheffield to Lincoln line. We pass several EWS wagons on both sides of the track, as there is a wagon repair depot on the south side just before Worksop station. We arrive bang on time at this two-platform station, which has its original station buildings still in place. There's a small waiting room and ticket office, but other rooms seem mysteriously shut up. I now have a three quarter of an hour wait for my train to Sheffield and wait in the ticket office area, but this shuts at 5.00pm and I am turfed out onto a freezing cold platform, which has a leaky roof!
Summary: This line was only reopened to passengers in the 1980's but is a popular line through a heavily built up area. Perhaps the people at East Midlands Trains should look at putting in a half hourly service through to Worksop. It would certainly help with those from this area wanting to make a connection for Sheffield, Retford or Lincoln at Worksop, where at present the timings do not make sense. MC