A HISTORIC railway line in County Durham will triumphantly reopen later this month after a prolonged absence that isolated many in rural communities across the region.
Trains will be back on track at Weardale Railway as staff and volunteers on the popular heritage line prepare for its reopening.
The first passengers will be welcomed back to the Weardale Railway fleet from May 28 with trains initially running between Stanhope and Wolsingham.
Read more: Weardale Line gets £50,000 boost – which County Durham locations will benefit?
Weardale Railway was purchased by The Auckland Project in March 2020, bringing it out of administration with a bold vision for its future growth and development.
Since then, an extensive program of inspections, network assessments, infrastructure maintenance and repairs has been undertaken, as well as train improvements.
Weardale Railway Managing Director Wayne Dixon said: “We are delighted to be able to announce a reopening date for Weardale Railway.
“The route of the railway is beautiful, running through the heart of Weardale, and we hope people can enjoy it safely in a train carriage.
Alongside the reopening, efforts are still underway to reconnect other sites on the Weardale line, including Wearhead, St John’s Chapel, Witton-le-Wear and Bishop Auckland West.
Currently, survey work is underway at these locations after a £50,000 investment was secured last month by North West Durham MP Richard Holden.
To mark the reopening of the line, Weardale Railway, together with Durham Police and local councilor Anita Savory, have launched a safety campaign to help members of the public understand the dangers and legal implications of trespassing on lanes through Weardale and beyond.
This collaborative initiative will include visits to local schools and wider community venues to spread the safety message widely.
Later in the year, pupils and teachers from participating schools will be invited to return to Weardale Railway to learn more about its history and day-to-day operation.
Anita Savory, County Durham Councilor for Weardale, said: ‘The safety of the community is always paramount, it is vitally important that everyone is aware that the railway line is once again in constant use. .
“Working in partnership with Weardale Railway, local police and Weardale Action Partnership (WAP), we strive to send the message for the safety of the whole community.”
Jamie Clarkson, Community Safety Worker with the Weardale Neighborhood Police Team, added: “We are already running other local school safety campaigns, so it will be great to include rail safety in our portfolio.
“If this campaign is successful in Weardale, we will look to roll out the program to wider communities in County Durham.”
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