South Tynedale Railway Ltd has gone into administration and five jobs have been lost.
The company which runs the narrow gauge line between Alston and Slaggyford, has become insolvent and is no longer active, with five of its employees, based in Alston, having been made redundant.
However, the separate South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society — which has run and developed the line since 1983 — is still going strong and its trustees and volunteers believe they might be able to keep their popular steam locomotives operating in future years.
The line has been shut this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
David Granath, chairman of the society’s trustees, said consideration had been given to opening the line this year, but was rejected because, due to social distancing rules, trains could have carried just 20 per cent of the normal number of passengers, which would not have brought in enough income to pay the bills.
According to Mr Granath, the other trustees and a band of 15 to 20 dedicated volunteers will look after the railway site over the winter while consideration is given to a new business model under which the line could be run on a voluntary basis.
He said: “We are rewinding back to the beginning. It is quite difficult to run a fully compliant railway in this neck of the woods, but there is definitely hope for the future.
“We have a really good group of trustees and volunteers who will do all they can to run the railway.”
He added that the “big unknown” in their deliberations was a possible resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak, which could make future operation of the line impossible.