Weardale Railway to run steam engines next month
PLANS to run a steam locomotive on a North East heritage railway are on track following the £70,000 restoration of a 55-year-old engine.
Volunteers who run the Weardale Railway, between Stanhope and Wolsingham in County Durham, expect to have the locomotive ferrying passengers next month.
Members of the Weardale Railway Trust say Locomotive Number 40 has successfully passed a number of trial runs.
The engine was built in the mid 1950s at Newcastle, for use in the Ashington area by the National Coal Board, to ferry passengers from outlying villages to the pits in south east Northumberland.
The Trust bought it and ran in for a short period in 2006 before beginning the lengthy restoration. Steam services are planned on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout next month.
It is hoped it will be unveiled for a trial run next weekend, which is also the weekend of the Weardale Railway classic car show.
Vehicles from TV programs such as Life on Mars, The Royal and Heartbeat are expected to descend on Stanhope Railway station next Sunday.
Rail enthusiast Neil Anderson has sent the Weardale railway volunteers photographs of Loco 40 when it was operating around Ashington.
Meanwhile the new majority shareholders of the railway have made a major breakthrough in restoring regular rail services along the entire length of the Wear Valley.
British American Rail Services (BARS), which took a controlling interest in the railway last year, has worked with the trust to clear a 10-mile stretch linking Wolsingham to Bishop Auckland. That has paved the way for Weardale Railway to become a significant tourist route.