It’s just over half a century since the last of Ilkeston’s three railway stations closed. These were, in order of closure, Ilkeston Town, Ilkeston North and Ilkeston Junction & Cossall.
In the following half century most of the old railway infrastructure has been cleared away, and the trackbed redeveloped, leaving only a few remains to suggest just how important the railway network in Ilkeston once was, for both passengers and freight.
Despite planning permission being granted in 2014 for the construction and reopening of a station in 2015, Ilkeston remains one of the many large towns in the United Kingdom to have an operational railway line, but no passenger service.
Delays due to newts, flood prevention work, revision of the original scheme (due to rising costs) and the need to resubmit the planning application due to the changes made to the original plans, have all pushed back the opening date for the new Ilkeston station to a provisional date of Easter 2016.
Recently building work has begun to clear away the remains of the old Ilkeston Junction & Cossall railway station in preparation for the construction of the new Ilkeston station, so it finally seems like Ilkeston’s long awaited and delayed station will soon become a reality.
Ilkeston station is scheduled to have train services provided by the train operating companies East Midland Trains and Northern Trains. Passengers will be able to travel from Ilkeston station to a variety of destinations such as Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Norwich and Liverpool.
The residents of Ilkeston could also benefit from the new station, by reducing the amount of car journeys into and out of Ilkeston on what are now regularly clogged main roads to Nottingham, and to the north. The new station will provide an alternative for commuters and shoppers alike over the only options available to Ilkeston residents at the moment of taking the bus, or using the car.
Like most places that have seen the reintroduction of a railway station and regular passenger services, there will be many economic benefits both directly and indirectly, providing a much needed boost not just for Ilkeston, but also the surrounding areas.
It’s not all good news though, as the delays in the construction and eventual reopening of Ilkeston station have created a level of doubt and anger in Ilkeston residents. The station will also have no passenger services to Derby, one of the two main cities along with Nottingham most visited by Ilkeston residents, for commuting to work or shopping.
The location of the station on Station Road means that like Derby, the station is not in a central location and will require either a walk to the town centre, the catching of the half hourly bus service, or for ease of convenience, taking the car.
It could also be argued that if the station had been built at Gallows Fields near to the site of the old Trowell station, then there would have been a more frequent bus service to Ilkeston and a greater variety of feeder routes from surrounding towns and villages to the new station. The village of Trowell would also have benefited from the proximity of the station providing passenger services to Nottingham for another mainly car dominated environment.
Overall, despite the delays and frustrations, Ilkeston will hopefully be enjoying the benefits of regular passenger train services from Easter 2016. Good news for those of us who are solely dependent on public transport and for providing a chance to ease local road congestion in the Ilkeston area.