Updated 22 March 2016



Shortcut tox Nuneaton - Market Bosworth - Shackerstone - Ashby Line (a.k.a. Battlefield Line) xSection


Official Opening



Nuneaton North Chord, Britain's newest freight railway line,

has been officially opened by transport minister Rt Hon Simon Burns MP.


Work started on the £28.3m project a year ago, and the first train to use the new line

was the 13.45 from Harpenden (Hertfordshire) to Basford Hall (Crewe) on 21 October.


The new 0.9 mile section of track links the existing cross-country rail route

from Felixstowe to Nuneaton with the West Coast Main Line.


It allows freight trains to travel through Nuneaton station

without affecting passenger services,

thereby helping to reduce disruption, and making the railway more reliable.



Rail freight at the Port of Felixstowe




At the Official Opening of Nuneaton North Chord (14 Nov 2012)

The train below is x 4M29, the 04:12 from Felixstowe to Barton Dock



John Smith, managing director, GB Railfreight; xxxxxxxRt. Hon Simon Burns MP, Transport Minister;

Tim Robinson, director of freight, Network Rail; xxxxGB Railfreight train driver Mark Winkworth


Tim Robinson, director of freight at Network Rail, said:

“Britain relies on rail freight and this scheme is crucial because Nuneaton North Chord

is a key part of our plans to improve freight capacity on the railway – one of the greenest methods of transporting goods.


"This chord not only frees up space on the network, but creates a more reliable railway for passengers

and takes hundreds of thousands of lorries off the roads.”


Mr Burns added:

“It is Government investment schemes like the Nuneaton Chord

that are helping power up our recovery and boost economic growth.


“The Chord unlocks a real rail freight revolution with bigger containers

now being taken straight from the Port of Felixstowe

and transported by rail directly to the West Midlands and beyond."



The new line forms an important part of Network Rail's strategic freight network,

and is part of a long-term investment programme on the Felixstowe - Nuneaton route,

which will help remove up to 750,000 lorries from the roads each year by 2030.


It now means the entire route between the Port of Felixstowe and Nuneaton can be used by freight trains

carrying the larger 9'6” or ‘high-cube' container increasingly used by global shipping companies.


This will enable freight trains to travel directly to the economic markets in West Midlands and North-West England

without having to travel through North London, which they currently do.


The scheme has been co-financed by Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the European Union's TEN-T programme.


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The first train to use the new line was 6Y54, the 1.45 pm from Harpenden (Hertfordshire) to Basford Hall (Crewe) ballast train on 21 October.


The Nuneaton North Chord extends from the north-west fringe of Nuneaton, approximately 600m to the north west of the existing railway station.


It leaves the Birmingham to Leicester line near Two Bridges, and runs parallel to the West Coast Main Line (WCML)

for approximately 0.9 miles before rejoining the WCML near Canal Farm.


The new chord allows freight trains to join the WCML via a dedicated track rather than crossing the four existing lines at track level.

Courtesy Network Rail Media Centre



The above new chord did not permit West Coast MainLine trains from the north to stop at Nuneaton (using old platforms 4 & 5)

before gaining access to the Leicester Line.


It has now been noted that a connection to the Leicester Line has been re-instated from Nuneaton Platform 5

and is used by some freight trains in both directions, mainly during the night. Examples may be found by using 'RealTime'.




RVR Historical Rail Maps





Above & below: xxxx The new freight route is shown in blue


The former & longer route via North London Lines may be followed by viewing RVR Historical Rail Maps:

Map 37 London xxxxxxxxxxx Map 31 South of Felixstowe


Improving the railway from Felixstowe to Nuneaton involves:

Capacity enhancements between Ipswich and Peterborough:


(a) a new 0.7 mile stretch of track, or chord, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk and Great Eastern lines.

(b) doubling of the line from Ely to Soham, including looping facilities for longer trains at Ely

(c) signalling work at Kennett / Bury St Edmunds


Gauge enhancements between Peterborough and Nuneaton to ensure the entire route

can carry the larger, more economical freight containers increasingly preferred by global shipping firms.


It also enables freight operators to use standard wagons, which are more efficient and economical.


NK adds a historical note:


Through passenger traffic from Leicester to the West Coast Main LIne was very rare indeed.


However, there was the 08:10 service Sats only from Leicester to Llandudno routed via Nuneaton and Stafford, with a return working,

which operated for a few years post 1945.


Additionally, in August 1949 for Leicester Holidays, there was a one-off through service from Leicester to Morecambe (E.R.)/Barrow leaving Leicester at 03:30,

on which I just had to travel, and which arrived Barrow at 08:45 hrs. - my first solo journey.


Today this same journey usually has to be undertaken via Birmingham N.St. (fewer WCML services now stopping at Nuneaton) & Preston

or via Sheffield & Manchester Picc. but is much quicker.


Also, during electrification of WCML, the overnight sleeper from Barrow to London was routed this way, to join the Midland Mainline at Wigston Magna,

arriving at St.Pancras. However, the return working was from Euston.


Incidentally, during this same period, the Ulster Express from Heysham to Euston was diverted at Bletchley on to the Bicester - Oxford Line,

and used Claydon Chord (north of Aylesbury) link to join the former Great Central route into Marylebone.


Marylebone also served as the starting point for an overnight Starlight Express service to Glasgow St.Enoch.



Nuneaton - Market Bosworth - Shackerstone - Burton - Ashby - Loughborough (Derby Road)



By enlarging the excellent aerial photo at the top of this feature,

one can clearly observe above the outline of the

now lifted-tracks of the Nuneaton - Ashby Line,

whose passenger service ceased in 1931.



This line connected with LNW at Nuneaton Trent Valley Station

and the Midland Railway at Nuneaton Abbey Street

(the site of the latter station is just visible at the bottom of the photo)


and its course can be traced on the above Nuneaton to Stamford Map.


As will be noted from the timetables below, the line provided a service from

Nuneaton to Ashby, Coalville and Loughborough Derby Road

via Shackerstone


However, by using the third side of the triangular junction at Moira,

an 'express' linked London Euston with Buxton

via Nuneaton, Burton, Uttoxeter & Ashbourne,


creating an alternative to the Midland route from St.Pancras to Buxton

via Leicester & Millers Dale.



All that remains now is the Battlefield Line Railway

connecting Shenton, Market Bosworth & Shackerstone,

and which itself is well-worth a visit.


N. Kirby


April 1910


April 1910


July 1922


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