The evening of the 17th July 2021 may have been just another hot summer evening for most, but for the directors and trustees of the railway it was the first step in getting trains running back to Redmire. A special inspection train was organised to allow our infrastructure team to show the railway officers what has so far been achieved and what is left to do to allow us to reopen all the way back up to Redmire.
After the last service from Scruton arrived back in Bedale, instead of the unit returning to Leeming for a clean and a rest, 17 members of the PLC and Trust boarded along with the train crew for a trip west, stopping off at locations of interest to inspect work carried out and see where further work is required.
Toby Lampitt from Lampitt Rail Services and Vince Middlebrough were our guides for the evening as they have been working on the plan to get this part of the line back into operation.
The primary focus was on fencing, where in some areas the fences are no longer fit for purpose and in other locations nature has taken control and it’s difficult to see any hint of a fence at all. This must be put right before we can start to run regular passenger services again. In some of the worse areas the vegetation has grown back to the point where it is brushing aganst the train, so this must also be addressed to open up the line for our passengers to see the spectacular Yorkshire scenery and to help the track bed dry out.
Drainage was also reviewed, with some areas of the track showing where mud is being washed from the surrounding fields and clogging the ballast contrasted with locations that have had improved drainage installed. Drainage is particularly important at road crossings and we were shown the work carried out at Smiths User Worked Crossing where a new deck has been installed and the drains cleared and improved, making this crossing safe and reliable for many years to come with minimal maintenance.
The railway would not be a railway without track, and we were shown the quality of the track that was re-laid east of Leyburn compared to the track on Preston bank between Redmire and Leyburn. The new track on concrete sleepers and good stone ballast requires much less maintenance than the sections of track on wooden sleepers with ash ballast. The plan for the track currently being recovered from Eggborough PowerStation was explained and the section it will replace was viewed.
We were also shown where some of our neighbours have decided that as we are currently not running passenger services then the railway land has become fair game to an extension to their gardens. This obviously has got to stop as it’s both illegal and dangerous, we still run works trains over the full length of the line and the frequency of these will increase as we tackle more work west of Bedale.
On returning to Bedale, Platform One had laid on a light buffet and refreshments while we discussed what we had seen and the road ahead of us in getting back to Redmire.
Thanks must go to Toby & Vince for guiding us, Rob Williamson & Andy Tarran for driving, Gordon Steadman for guarding, Andy Rutherford for working the gates and holding the ladder and Guy for picking up the tab.