In the recent bad weather, staff at the Wensleydale Railway came to the rescue of stranded motorists.
As flood waters cut off parts of Wensleydale the railway ran a free emergency service between Leyburn and Bedale. The road connecting the two towns, the A684, became impassable. Grateful passengers praised the rail heroes for their help.
Says Martin Baggaley, a manager at Glebe House Surgery, Bedale who lives in Leyburn and couldn’t get home, ‘The railway has been a huge life-saver for me because I just wanted to get home. The staff were so helpful and couldn’t do enough for us.’
Says Wensleydale Railway general manager Nigel Park, ‘At first we thought we wouldn’t be able to run trains, but we took a train up to have a look and found that it was okay once we had removed some gravel from some of the crossings. We decided that running an emergency service was a sensible thing to do – we had 50- year-old trains doing what modern vehicles couldn’t do.’
The railway used a two car DMU for the service as it was lighter. ‘It’s been an absolute blessing for me,’ says health assistant Debra Thompson who was also stranded by the floods. ‘I was going to have to spend the night on my friend’s sofa.’
The Wensleydale Railway originally stretched 40 miles connecting the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton with the Settle and Carlisle Line at Garsdale. Currently services run between Redmire and Leeming, near Northallerton. This stretch of track had survived as a freight operation servicing Redmire quarry.
The private railway company celebrated ten years in the business on 4 July 2012. WR has ambitious plans to expand both east to Garsdale and west into Northallerton. Funds are needed to construct a temporary passenger terminus at Northallerton. As far as local motorists are concerned expansion can’t happen quick enough.