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Next stop...railway open days - Aln Valley Railway


Next stop...railway open days -
Published on Friday 13 July 2012 06:00

Long-standing dreams of reopening a historic railway reach a major milestone this weekend.

from: http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/next-stop-railway-open-days-1-4731086
On Saturday, the Aln Valley Railway (AVR) holds its very first open day, to give visitors a glimpse of the progress being made on the ambitious project, which has been nearly two decades in the making.

It will be an unforgettable chapter in this heritage railway story – to reopen the branchline from Alnmouth Station to Alnwick.

And the importance of the moment is not lost on those who have worked tirelessly to realise these dreams.

Mark Hayton, who is involved with the scheme, said: “It is a major milestone in our journey and it is a massive step forward to reaching that goal of having trains operating, hopefully in a few year’s time, between Alnmouth and Alnwick.”

The open days will take place at the site of where the Alnwick (Lionheart) station will be, on the outskirts of the town, adjacent to Lionheart Enterprise Park.

The recent deluge has hindered progress meaning that no trains will be running at present – although it is hoped that short train rides can commence in the autumn.

But while no trains will be in operation yet, there will still be plenty to see.

A replica North Eastern Railway brake van built on a former derelict chassis by AVR members, as well as a a flat wagon formerly used on Ministry of Defence railways in Germany and restored by AVR members, are set to be on show.

Elsewhere on the site, visitors will get to see the recently-arrived diesel locomotive, number 615, which formerly worked at Whittle Colliery, near Alnwick.

Other attractions will include a large self-propelled Tamper-liner machine which

has been donated to the AVR by the National Railway Museum in York.

A wooden ticket office which has been restored by AVR members, and which will, eventually, be placed on the Lionheart station platform, will be on show.

Visitors will also be given guided tours of the site, to see the future trackbed, station platform site, the locomotive shed and the yard.

However, this tour is not suitable for people of limited mobility, while unaccompanied children cannot be taken on the guided tours.

There will be an exhibition of local railway photographs and memorabilia in the temporary museum/exhibition building, while the railway shop will open its doors. Refreshments will also be available.

Mark said: “We have had to battle against the wet weather recently but we hope there is a decent amount to show the public.

“They will also see how far we have come in a short space of time since being on the site a few months ago.”

The open days will take place on both Saturday and Sunday, and then subsequent Thursdays to Sundays thereafter.

It is an important milestone in what has been a long, and at times, difficult journey for the project.

The Aln Valley Railway Trust (AVRT) and its supporting Society were established to re-open the branch as a heritage steam attraction and a plan was formally launched in 1997.

A number of complications put the brakes on various proposals for the railway.

But those behind the bid did not give up, and in 2010, an amended plan was given the go-ahead.

Earlier this year, the project took a major step forward, when the AVRT signed the lease to allow the first construction elements of the railway to begin almost immediately. It was full steam ahead after that, and the first rails were laid at the Lionheart site in April.

Now, the open days will allow the public to get a taste of the project.

The site will be open from 10am. It is free access, but donations welcome. Free car parking for up to 40 cars is available on site. Separate parking for the disabled will be available. Vehicles should approach the site via the Lionheart Enterprise Park and Ash Close, not via the A1 slip-road and Cawledge Lane.

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