Derby City Council, East Midlands Trains and Network Rail all joined forces to celebrate 175 years since the first ever passenger train ran between Derby and Nottingham. The Midland Counties Railway, which officially opened on Thursday 30 May 1839, ran the first ever train between these two East Midlands Trains’ cities and hundreds of people along the route greeted the ‘flying wonder’ with shouts of applause as the rail link between Derby and Nottingham opened for the first time.
Passengers and guests at Derby station were treated to music courtesy of the Melbourne brass band, were given complimentary Bakewell tarts and saw the unveiling of an official plaque by Derby’s Mayor, Councillor Fareed Hussain, David Horne from East Midlands Trains and Justin Page from Network Rail to mark 175 successful years of Derby’s railways.
Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, David Horne, and members of the station team at Derby also wore Victorian railway uniforms to mark the occasion, and a special train ran between Derby and Nottingham with a commemorative ‘Midland Counties Railways’ headboard. Mirroring the events of 175 years ago, the Mayor of Derby (Councillor Fareed Hussain) and the Lord Mayor of Nottingham (Councillor Ian Malcolm) met at Nottingham station to celebrate the important link between the two cities, used to transport millions of commuters, students, and leisure passengers every year and guests were given an opportunity to see progress on the multi-million pound station improvement scheme nearing completion at Nottingham.
The Mayor of the City of Derby, Councillor Fareed Hussain, said: “I am honoured to unveil the official plaque as part of celebrations to mark the 175th year of Derby’s railways. Derby Roundhouse is the oldest remaining railway turning shed in the world, so it is wonderful to be able to turn the clock back to remember the golden age of steam as well as to acknowledge today’s high speed achievements.”
David Horne, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, said: “This is a very exciting and special year for our railways. Today is a double celebration as we are marking 175 years of Derby’s railways and the 175th anniversary of the first ever train to run between Derby and Nottingham.
“Today this route provides a crucial link for millions of our passengers and it’s important that we reflect on the success of the past 175 years and look ahead the exciting improvements planned for the future.”
Justin Page, area director for Network Rail, said: “This is an important anniversary for Derby, which remains a thriving rail hub. Not only is this an exciting year for Derby, it is an exciting era for railway in the East Midlands. £1.6billion of improvements will deliver more seats and improved performance for passengers and more space for freight on our network.
“We will complete this investment with passengers at the heart of our plans and an unrelenting focus on safety. Together we will deliver a railway worthy of celebrating in another 175 years.”
Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Ian Malcolm, helped to welcome the special train to Nottingham. He said: “There’s a great deal to celebrate about the train service between our cities, with Nottingham station undergoing a magnificent transformation that’s almost complete and which, among many other improvements, returns the original buildings to their former glory. I’d like to think the rail pioneers of the Victorian era would be proud of this, whose legacy of ongoing investment in public transport is more important than ever.”
As part of Derby’s 175 year association with rail, a number of events are taking place throughout the year to celebrate Derby’s proud rail heritage and the future role of the railway. During the summer, East Midlands Trains will be holding a special Red Dot Day at Derby station with tickets priced at £17.50 return to travel anywhere on the East Midlands Trains network, and there will also be a chance for people to have a look behind the scenes of Derby’s Etches Park depot, which is used by East Midlands Trains to maintain thousands of trains each year.