The Wensleydale Railway has released a Traction and Rolling Stock update with regards to a return of services after the coronavirus lockdowns.
With a route of 22 miles, the railway runs from Northallerton West to Redmire in the Yorkshire Dales, with stations at Leeming Bar, Bedale and Leyburn.
Whilst storage space is available at Leeming and Redmire, the Wensleydale Railway is quite limited for siding and storage space.
No public trains have run on the Wensleydale Railway in nearly a year, and whilst various engineering trains have operated, driving training and other assessments need to be made first before passenger service can resume.
In the update, the Wensleydale Railway says that they will be reliant on the Pacers until the Class 121 returns from repairs. The so-called ‘ghost services’, for driver training, will be operated by Pacer trains, and this will help keep costs down. Once passenger numbers begin to rise, ‘more appealing traction’ will be introduced.
Locomotive hauled coaching stock is still preferred for galas and events, with both air-braked and vacuum-braked coaching stock available.
The diesel locomotive fleet at the Wensleydale Railway currently consists of a Class 14, 20, 33 and 37 and covers the immediate needs of the railway. The railway has said that it would consider adding more locomotives to the fleet such as Class 25s, 26s, 37s or a 31. A Class 40 or 37 is a ‘nice to have’ but running costs are higher so the Wensleydale Railway says a hire agreement would make more sense.
Moving to what everyone wants to know, steam locomotives. Steam trains bring in ticket sales, but the costs of running steam are majorly higher than operating diesel trains.
The long term plan for the Wensleydale Railway is to acquire a suitable steam locomotive when the railway can make sure that they can maintain and service it as well as having the passenger numbers for such an expense.
In the shorter term, the railway will hire steam locomotives where demand is there, such as in high summer months as has been demonstrated before, with the loan of 65894 from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
However, steam locomotives need to be cleaned, and there needs to be space to do this. The maintenance shed isn’t suited to steam locomotives, the Wensleydale Railway has said. So the railway needs to clear space at Leeming Bar to add servicing facilities, such as an ash pit, watering arrangements and a coating area.
So the Wensleydale Railway has decided that if there is no long term plan or if the locomotive or piece of rolling stock has no place in the strategy, then it may be the best option to move it to another site where restoration would be more practical.
A number of residents have left the railway for a new future and the Wensleydale Railway says that there will be more to follow. The number of pacers that have arrived at the Wensleydale Railway recently isn’t all benefits for the railway as they have been providing a place for other organisations to receive the Pacer off the national network before heading to its new home via road transport.
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