Rural heritage railway set to restore services to county town

Wensleydale Railway's signal box at the line's Bedale station. Picture: Mike Cowling
Wensleydale Railway's signal box at the line's Bedale station. Picture: Mike Cowling
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PASSENGERS could soon be able to catch rail services from North Yorkshire’s county town to the edge of the Dales for the first time in more than half a century.

The Wensleydale Railway has already secured planning permission to build a temporary platform on land near Springwell Lane in Northallerton.

And next week Hambleton Council is expected to agree to help the organisation meet the estimated £51,000 cost of the project.

The Wensleydale Railway first reopened the line to passengers in 2003 on the stretch from Leeming Bar to Leyburn and later added the stretch to the village of Redmire on the edge of the national park.

The services on old diesel and steam trains have obvious tourist appeal but the organisation wants to see the line eventually re-integrated back into the rest of the regular rail network.

Although the new services will stop at a temporary platform rather than Northallerton’s main station, served by the East Coast Main Line, the move is a significant step towards achieving its ambition.

Winter’s wet weather led to a landslip which damaged the track between Bedale and Leyburn.

Hambleton councillors will be told next week that the repairs have used up all of the money the Wensleydale Railway Association had in place to fund the extension of services to Northallerton.

They will be recommended by council officers to offer a grant of up to £40,000 to the association on the grounds the new services will help the council meet its priorities of “improving transport, improving the economy and bringing employment”.

The association has already spent £28,000 on upgrading the track between Leeming Bar and Northallerton ready for passenger services.

The Wensleydale line first lost its passengers services in 1954 but it continued to be used to carry limestone to Teesside until 1992.

The Ministry of Defence continued to use the line to move military vehicles before the Wensleydale Railway Association took a 99 year lease on the 22 mile stretch between Northallerton and Redmire.

The Association recently achieved another milestone in its plans with the restoration of Scruton station.