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The Wensleydale Railway is a railway line in Wensleydale and Lower Swaledalemarker in North Yorkshire, Englandmarker and the name of the company (Wensleydale Railway plc) that operates services on the line.

The line currently runs 22 miles between Northallertonmarker, on the East Coast Main Line, and Redmiremarker. It formerly ran to Garsdalemarker on the Settle-Carlisle Railway but the track between Redmire and Garsdale has now been lifted and several bridges have been demolished. Regular passenger services operate between Leeming Barmarker and Redmire. However there are plans to also provide services between Leeming Bar and Northallerton and between Redmire and Garsdale (though the latter would require restoration of track and missing bridges and is likely to be done in stages). This would recreate 40 miles of track between Northallerton and Garsdale and make it the fourth largest heritage railway in England .

Line history

Origins

The original line between Northallerton and Garsdale was opened in stages: Northallerton to Leeming Bar (in 1848); Leeming Bar to Bedalemarker (in 1855); Bedale to Leyburnmarker (in 1855 for freight traffic and in 1856 for passenger traffic); Leyburn to Askriggmarker (in 1877); Askrigg to Hawesmarker and Garsdale to Hawes (both in 1878). The section from Northallerton to Hawes became part of the North Eastern Railway and the section from Hawes to Garsdale became part of the Midland Railway.

Decline

The line between Northallerton and Hawes closed to passengers in 1954 and the line between Hawesmarker and Garsdale closed to all traffic in 1959. The line between Redmire and Hawes was closed completely in 1964 and subsequently lifted. However some Dalesrail excursion trains ran between Redmire and Yorkmarker in the 1970s and occasional charter trains ran to Redmire.

With the exception of freight trains serving the quarry near Redmire, freight traffic on the remaining portion of line ceased in 1982. Freight trains to Redmire ceased in 1992.

At this point, the future of the remaining line looked very bleak. However the Wensleydale Railway Association (WRA) was formed in 1990 with the main aim of restoring passenger services. When British Rail decided to try and sell the line between Northallerton and Redmire following cessation of the quarry trains to Redmire, the WRA decided to take a more proactive role and aim to operate passenger services itself.

Reopening

First Day of re-opening ticket
A surprising but positive development was the Ministry of Defence (MoD) indicating an interest in using the line between Northallerton and Redmire to transport armoured vehicles to/from Catterick Garrisonmarker. This plan went ahead with the MoD paying for repairs and restoration of the line and the installation of loading facilities at Redmire, and in addition the MoD did not object to WRC taking over the line. These military transport trains continue to this day.

In 2000 WRA formed a separate operating company, the Wensleydale Railway plc (WRC), and issued a share offer to raise funds, £1.2m was raised through this method. Railtrack agreed to lease the line between Northallerton and Redmire to WRC and a 99-year lease was signed in 2003. Passenger services re-started on July 4 2003 with the stations at Leeming Bar and Leyburn being reopened. In 2004 the stations at Bedale, Finghall and Redmire were also reopened.

Company structure

The Wensleydale Railway plc is responsible for the operation, maintenance and development of the railway line and passenger services. The company has a mixture of employed and volunteer staff.

The Wensleydale Railway Association Ltd is a membership organisation that supports the development of the railway through fundraising and volunteer working.

The Wensleydale Railway Trust is a charity that provides training and supports work on heritage structures.

Current service

A ticket issued by the Wensleydale Railway in 2003
The WR aims to provide public transport in Wensleydale as well as being a visitor attraction.

There are three or four passenger trains a day in each direction between Leeming Bar and Redmire. In addition there are occasional charter trains and feature events.

Dales & District operate a bus link between Leeming Bar and Northallerton railway station.

Future plans

In the short-to-medium term, the aim is to extend passenger train services east to Northallerton to provide interchange with the National Rail network once agreement has been reached with Network Rail regarding access to the station. The longer term aim is to reopen the line west from Redmire to join up with the Settle-Carlisle Railway at Garsdale. Recreation of the entire 40-mile link between Northallerton and Garsdale would make it the fourth largest heritage railway in England .

Locomotives

Route of railway and surrounding lines
Number & Name Description History & Current Status Livery Owner(s) Date Photograph
No. D2144 (03144) Western Waggoner Class 03 Operational. MoD Green. Private Owner. 1960 ~
Wensleymarker Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM Shunter Stored. Green. Private Owner. 1963 ~
No. 25313 Class 25 Under Repair. BR Rail Blue. Privately Owned. 1964 ~
No. 20166 (D8166) River Foweymarker Class 20 Operational. BR Green. Harry Needle Railroad Company 1966 ~
No. 47715 Poseidon Class 47 Operational. FM Rail. Wensleydale Diesel Traction Group. 1966 ~
No. 47703 Saint Mungo Class 47 Operational. FM Rail. Harry Needle Railroad Company 1967 ~
  • Diesel Multiple Units
    • BR Class 101/117 hybrid unit 101678 (51210+59509+53746) and spare cars 51247 (from unit 101687) and 59500
    • BR Class 110 unit 51813+59701+51842
  • Electrical Multiple Units


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