South Tynedale Railway
|South Tynedale Railway|
|Polish locomotive Nakło at Kirkhaugh Station|
|Name||South Tynedale Railway|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Length||3 1⁄2 miles (5.6 km)|
|Preserved gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
|1976||Former branch line to Alston closed.|
|1983||South Tynedale Railway opens to the Public, for the very first time.|
|1986||STR reaches Gilderdale|
|1996||Gilderdale-Kirkhaugh extension completed|
|1999||STR extends to Kirkhaugh,
Gilderdale station closed after 13 years
|2009||STR latest extension granted|
|2012||STR returns to Lintley Halt|
|2013||STR marks 30 years of operating trains along the line|
|South Tynedale Railway|
South Tynedale Railway shown within Northumberland
|OS grid reference||NY696495|
The South Tynedale Railway is a preserved, 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in England and is England's highest narrow gauge railway. The route runs from Alston in Cumbria to Lintley in Northumberland via the South Tyne, Gilderdale and Whitley Viaducts.
The railway is operated by a charity, The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society, which was registered in 1983.
Passenger trains operate on the railway Spring through to Autumn and attract 40,000 people to the district every year. Information about exact dates are on the railway's web site www.south-tynedale-railway.org.uk Special trains operate including Santa Special trains on certain days in December each year. Although no Santa trains ran in 2011 as volunteer efforts were put into completing the extension to Lintley in time for the 2012 season, they ran again in 2012 on two successive weekends, 15–16 and 22–23 December. In 2013 Santa trains ran on 14–15 and 21–22 December.
At Alston station there is a cafe and gift shop both operated by the railway company. Free car and coach parking is available adjacent to the station which is located about 1⁄4 mile (0.40 km) north of the town on Hexham road.
The present line is now currently more than 3 1⁄2 miles (5.6 km) in length and there are plans to extend the line by a further 1 1⁄4 miles (2.0 km) to Slaggyford. The STR is built on the southern end of the track bed of the disused 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Haltwhistle to Alston Branch Line, which formerly connected with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Haltwhistle.
The popular South Tyne Trail shares the trackbed with the railway, fenced off for safety. It is a walking and cycle trail that provides a cut-off for part of its length for the Pennine Way national trail.
The standard gauge branch line was closed down by British Rail on 1 May 1976 and the track bed is mostly intact. Exceptions: at Lambley where the station house and garden are in private ownership: near Haltwhistle where construction of the A69 Haltwhistle by-pass road severed the trackbed on the bypass itself and on an adjoining secondary road. The Society has in its principal aims a hope to completely reopen a branch line railway to Haltwhistle.
Confirmation was received in November 2009 that a grant of £100,000 had been awarded by the Groundwork UK Community Spaces programme which will be used to fund the restoration of three historic railway bridges on the former Haltwhistle to Alston line. Northumberland County Council's west area committee also granted consent for a completely new station at Lintley and the new extension to Lintley opened to traffic on 1 April 2012. Rails extend across Lintley viaduct for a distance of about 200 metres from the new station to form a headshunt for works trains.
The extended line from Kirkhaugh to Lintley Halt was officially opened in Saturday 12 May 2012 by Lord Inglewood, a long-time friend of the railway society.
On the same day Cumbria County Council handed over documents confirming a Community Asset Transfer of the Society's leased land in Cumbria. Work to gain a similar status in Northumberland is ongoing with Northumberland County Council.
In September 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund made an award that allows development work on a full bid for the Slaggyford extension to proceed. The bid will also include innovative 'green' initiatives to update the railway's buildings, equipment and infrastructure in and around Alston. The final outcome of the bid is anticipated in January 2014.
In December 2012 a serious wash-out of a retaining wall about 50 metres north of Alston Station threatened to stop the popular Santa trains. Quick work by the railway's track gang to skew the main running line saved the day. The STR is left with a significant fund-raising issue to fully repair the 160-year-old wall, restore the lineside footpath and return the main line to use. Temporary repairs were completed by mid-January 2013 whilst fundraising efforts continue to effect a longterm and full repair. The main line was moved back to its proper alignment before the 2013 season began.
During January 2013 the railway society's ambitions that, one day, trains will again run all the way from Alston to Haltwhistle moved a couple of steps closer. British Railways Board (Residuary) Ltd. improved upon and changed an earlier offer that now transfers a 7-metre wide strip of land to the society. The land runs parallel to the Alston bay platform at Haltwhistle mainline station and provides sufficient space for proper station and run-round facilities for narrow gauge trains. This important step allows the society to approach Network Rail for agreement to use its land alongside the platform and the platform itself. Additionally a small parcel of land that allows access to the station area from the Alston Arches Viaduct will be made available to the railway society.
In early February the South Tynedale Railway joined the Heritage Skills Initiative and an engineering skills trainee will join the South Tynedale's mainly volunteer workforce in March. The one year project is in partnership with the North of England Civic Trust backed by a bursary and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme is specifically aimed at overcoming skills shortages in traditional engineering crafts. The new trainee will work alongside the railway's skilled volunteer engineers looking after the railway's locomotives and rolling stock. The new member of the railway's team will concentrate on developing a new works train to support the STR's specialist permanent way team as they prepare for work on the 1 1⁄4 miles (2.0 km) extension from Lintley Halt to Slaggyford from 2015.
At the Annual General Meeting in November 2013 the railway society's chairman signed agreements that hand responsibility for the viaducts at Lambley and Haltwhistle to the society. They were formerly owned by the now defunct North Pennine Heritage Trust. This important acquisition lays down further building blocks towards the society's aim to eventually reopen the full length of the branch line.
On 4th February 2014 the STR announced a £5.5 million development project that includes just over £4.2 million awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.(source HLF and STR press information releases)
Passenger rolling stock
Trains are made up daily depending on predicted passenger numbers. There are four all-steel open-ended gallery coaches built by a contractor in Alston, two wooden-bodied coaches and two brake vans constructed in the railway workshops. Additions to the fleet in 2011 were an all-steel buffet coach, originally built by Gloucester Carriage and Wagon for Sierra Leone Railways, and re-gauged from 750mm to 610mm for use at Alston, and a re-gauged former Romanian steel coach now converted to be fully accessible for disabled passengers.
The locomotive situation in early 2014 is as follows:
- Naklo – Polish built 0-6-0 No. 10 of 1957 - out of ticket and dismantled for assessment.
- Helen Kathryn – private owner Henschel & Son 0-4-0T No. 14 of 1948 - out of ticket Spring 2014.
- Thomas Edmondson – Henschel 0-4-0T No. 6 of 1918 - in ticket and operational.
- Carlisle – Hunslet Engine Company 0-4-2T No. 16 of 1937 – out of ticket – funding in place to send to works for full overhaul and return to traffic by 2016.
- Barber – Thomas Green & Son 0-6-2 No. 441 of 1908 – at works for full overhaul and back into traffic in July or August 2014.
- Diesel Naworth Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 4 of 1952 – operational.
- Diesel Hunslet 0-4-0DM No. 9 of 1952 – operational.
- Diesel Cumbria Hunslet 4wd No. 11 of 1967 – operational.
- Diesel Old Rusty Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 18 of 1961 – operational.
The timetable shows four return trips from Alston to Lintley. Outward trains leave from Alston at 1045, 1215, 1415 and 1545 hours. Return trains leave Lintley 35 minutes later. All trains stop at Kirkhaugh, reduced to a wayside halt, now that trains run to Lintley. Trains run from late March until mid November but not every day. There are a series of special events spread over the year when special timetables may apply (source STRPS website).
- "Grant puts railway on track for extension". Hexham Courant. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
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