Plans to build a new railway track through woodland to provide more Sheffield to Manchester services have been put on hold.
Proposals had been put forward by Network Rail for a new section of railway to run through woodland on the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate near Grindleford railway station.
But Network Rail have now said they are investigating alternative options for the location of the extra track, which would have allowed passenger services to overtake slower moving freight and stopping passenger trains as part of the Northern Hub programme to improve services.
It follows a public consultation in which environmental groups such as The Woodland Trust opposed the plans.
It had been intended work would start on the track in 2016, with the line opening in 2018.
But campaigners have warned they do not believe the future of the woodland is secure.
Although Network Rail is still describing the Grindleford site as an ‘optimum location’ for the extra track.
Chris Millner, area ranger for the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate, said: “There is no line drawn under it at the moment. But we are feeling they definitely seem to be doing all they can to look somewhere else.”
Steve Clements, part of a group carrying out a fungi and lichen survey at Longshaw, said campaigners will believe the woods are under ‘grave threat’ until the National Trust is assured the work will not take place.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We can confirm any previous plans to construct additional tracks at Grindleford are now not being proceeded with.
“Network Rail is continuing to look into the options which will help to improve rail services between Manchester and Sheffield.
“Since the consultation, the rail industry has reviewed the scope of the whole Northern Hub programme, and have identified alternative locations other than Grindleford which could be used to provide additional capacity to enhance services on the route.
“They are being reviewed to ensure they deliver the required benefits for rail services, minimise impacts in the National Park and can be delivered within timescales for the Northern Hub.”