Steam railway feels pinch as big freeze cuts takings and threatens investment

A STEAM railway which is run on a shoestring says its takings are 20 to 25 per cent down on last year because of the bad weather – hampering its ability to invest in its future.

Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway Steam Railway, which is run by volunteers from the Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust, claims it will have lost 15-20,000 as a result.

The weather was so cold that on Boxing Day staff were forced to cancel all four trains as everything "was completely frozen up'' according to Steven Walker, who has had a long involvement with the railway.

Business manager Mr Walker said: "It was so cold that we were breaking shovels trying to find where the manholes were. I have been involved for 25-30 years and I have never known it so cold.

"At one point one of our spades just snapped. The bad weather has cost us a lot of money.

"We did our best to keep things warm but even the stopcocks were frozen solid and underground pipes which don't normally freeze did so this time.

"Our team of volunteers battled very hard but you can't fight the weather and this year has not been as good as normal.

"We suffered last year with burst pipes so we installed extra heating in the buildings and took extra precautions but the weather got worse and worse and on Boxing Day we had to cancel all four trains. A poor winter affects our development – every penny lost slows you down and can't be re-invested.''

But the good news was that the railway was available for use today.

The railway was not the only one hit hard by the severe weather. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway used a fire engine to top up the water tank of a steam train over the festive period.

The line had been struggling to operate its steam engines after the freezing weather cut off its water supply and K&WVR member Mike Tarran, a former senior fire brigade officer, asked the nearby fire station for help.