Wensleydale Railway train damaged in storm and Keighley and Worth Valley Railway's 1990s throwback Pacer win restoration awards

Two of Yorkshire's leading heritage railways have won recognition for preserving historic rolling stock this year in trying circumstances.

The Wensleydale Railway and the Keighley and Worth Valley were both nominated for the Railcar of the Year title by the diesel multiple unit preservation group the Railcar Association - with the former eventually taking the prize following a public vote.

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The Wensleydale Railway's Class 121 'bubble car' suffered severe damage to its cab after being struck by a tree during a storm, leaving the heritage line facing an extensive repair bill during a time when they were struggling to run services due to the pandemic.

The Keighley and Worth Valley Pacer in new 1990s livery

Also shortlisted was the Keighley and Worth Valley's rejuvenation of their ex-Northern Pacer, a Class 144 which they acquired when the Pacer fleet was retired in 2020. It has now been repainted in its classic 1990s livery.

The citations read: "Wensleydale's single unit bubble car had been nominated in recognition of overcoming the hardships that railway preservation (and life in general) can throw up. Sadly 55032 was the victim of a tree strike following stormy weather whilst operating ordinary services at its home line the Wensleydale Railway. The collision left the vehicle heavily damaged at one end, with the cab and roof dome in particular being very damaged. Through co-operation with other DMU groups, a replacement roof dome from a scrap Class 108 vehicle was sourced which allowed the contract repairs to be undertaken in good time by Nemesis Rail. Despite a pandemic being in full swing, 55032 was subsequently returned to the Wensleydale Railway, and casual passers by would not know the vehicle had been damaged. A great achievement in troubling times.

"The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway's newly preserved Class 144 set was nominated as an example of a strong collections policy with historical integrity. Not preserved as cheap traction, Class 144s were part of the history of the local area, frequently calling at Keighley Station so it is correct for the line to preserve one. In addition to this, the set was also nominated for the quick action of the line in getting stuck in. 144011 was the first of the ex-Northern Pacers to lose the purple livery that had been such a recognisable link to the bad press that these units have suffered. Many previously sceptical observers had responded favourably to seeing the unit back in its 1990s guise, showing how important backdating works were in reversing some of the criticism. It was only the second time a second generation unit had been nominated for the award."

Wensleydale Railway's damaged diesel 'bubble car'