Welcome to the Mickleover Test Track pages 
In the late 60's British Railways developed two test tracks near its main technical headquarters in Derby. The high speed Old Dalby line was specifically developed for the testing of the experimental Advanced Passenger Train (APT-E) but the Mickleover test track was a much smaller, low key line which nevertheless saw a great deal of on-track test work over the years.

Unfortunately it is now closed and lifted, but between 1965 and 1990 it was used extensively by the BR Research Division.

Situated to the west of Derby, it was originally part of the Great Northern Railway's Derbyshire Extension cross country line from Grantham via Nottingham to Stafford and Burton. The line opened in 1878 to gain access to Stafford and Burton on Trent. The LNER withdrew the passenger service in December 1939 although only workmens’ trains had actually run between April 1928 and October 1939. Excursion traffic, however, continued to use this route to places like Skegness until 1964.

Leaving Derby the line headed west, passing under Uttoxeter Old Road and the Derby ring road (A5111) climbing at 1 in 100 past what is now Mackworth Estate to Mickleover tunnel. From the summit at Mickleover station the line turned SE for four miles to Etwall station on Derby Road. A further 1˝ miles due south took it to Egginton Junction where a double junction was necessary to cross the Stoke - Derby line before it crossed the River Dove and joined the Stoke - Burton line at Dove Junction.

The line closed to all traffic in early 1967 following which it was taken over as a test line, initially between Derby Friargate and Egginton Junction and, although the line was not subject to the dramatic changes that occurred at BR's other test track at Old Dalby, it was partly singled after closure.

After about eighteen months use, it was cut back to its final form and ran between Egginton Jcn. and Mickleover, a distance of approximately 6 miles and had a maximum line speed of 65 mile/h. It was equipped with facilities to introduce track defects, for test purposes. Its proximity to Derby was a great advantage but its low line speed limited the types of tests which were carried out there.

The building of the A516 Etwall by-pass, which was a feeder to the A50 M1 to M6 link road,  spelled the end for the test track as it came at the time when the Research Department was rationalising its assets and in July 1990 the line was closed. Track lifting was completed by October the same year.

Look here for some photographs of the closure and track lifting.

In July 2001 it was reported that the local bus company were interested in installing an express busway on the first two miles between Friargate and Mackworth but nothing came of this.

The whole of the route between the A38/A5111 Derby ring round roundabout near Mackworth Estate in Derby and Egginton (with a diversion to avoid Mickleover tunnel) has been converted into a cycle path the Mickleover Trail, part of NCN54.

I have now added some photos from 1968 when a Stephenson Locomotive Society 6-car DMU  special traversed the line from Egginton to Nottingham via Derby Friargate and back - look here

My thanks to Courtney Haydon, Peter Green and RCTS.



Back to Research page

Back to Main Index