The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society plans to reopen its famous narrow gauge line on July 3.
Following this date, the line – which runs for a distance of five miles through the picturesque scenery of the North Pennines between Alston and Slaggyford and is one of the area’s major attractions – will be open every weekend and bank holiday until the end of October.
“We aim to run steam services whenever possible, with back-up battery electric traction where necessary, said David Granath, chairman of the preservation society’s trustees.
The locomotives and rolling stock have been obtained from a wide variety of sources, both in the United Kingdom and abroad.
Much of the equipment is second-hand, and many of the items have been rebuilt, or undergone considerable modification, before being used on the railway.
Others of the vehicles have been built new for the society, partially in the railway’s own workshops at Alston.
He said: “We are taking measures to ensure passenger and crew safety including screening in carriages, the use of our open carriages where possible and booking groups in bays and not mixing them.”
The society’s team of volunteers, with expert input, have successfully completed boiler tests on the steam locomotives Barber and Green Dragon, and Green Dragon is ready to run.
Built by Hunslet Engine Company, of Leeds, in 1937, it saw service in South Africa before returning to the UK in 1997.
Following restoration by North Bay Engineering, Statfold Barn, and the engineering department at South Tynedale Railway, Green Dragon was trialled at the end of 2018 and came into full service in 2019.
Using wood briquettes made from waste virgin sawdust, Green Dragon is considerably more environmentally friendly than a traditional coal-fired steam locomotive.
In addition to the work on the locomotives and other equipment, engineering surveys have been commissioned on the structures along the line and this has not revealed any serious problems.
With regard to the society’s finances during the pandemic, Mr Granath said: “We were fortunate to receive a further grant of £33,100 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund which will cover our running costs until the end of June while we are not running trains.”
Mr Granath added that new volunteers are always welcome, and that anybody interested should contact Ian on firstname.lastname@example.org
Ticket bookings are online at the South Tynedale Railway website at www.south-tynedale-railway.org.uk, with a small number of casual tickets available on each running day.