MINOR RAILWAYS online - News
Below is the latest news to hand. News items from previous years can be found on the archive pages. The most recent additions are shown in RED. Last amendment: 12th August 2018.
News archive: 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017
WARGM Railway - a new 2' 6" gauge railway is rather unusual! This line has been under construction by a small group in the grounds of the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey for the last few years. Very limited passenger trains ran in 2017 and early 2018, but regular advertised passenger trains commenced on Wednesday 25th July 2018 as part of the Royal Gunpowder Mills school summer holiday events. These now run on Wednesdays only until early September. The line is an "E" run of 700 yards, with a station at each end - although currently only the southern end station has passenger access. (12/08/18) (Source: Report received).
Blyth Valley Light Railway - this brand new 7 1/4" gauge railway opened to the public on Saturday 14th July 2018. It is located at "Steamworks" (grid ref TM499765) - a 1 acre site dedicated to the 3ft gauge Southwold Railway (1879 - 1929), which is owned and is being developed by the Southwold Railway Trust. The site is located on the old Gasworks, off Blyth Road in Southwold, adjacent to the former Southwold Railway trackbed. Steamworks will not be fully finished until 2019, but is now open for rides on the 7 1/4" gauge railway and for visitors to see what is being developed on the site. The railway is a circuit of 165 yards in length, with one (un-named) station and a short spur into a stabling siding. Trains run clockwise around this circuit, within which some nature ponds are being developed. Rides are £1 for all for which three or four circuits are given. Aside from the miniature railway there is an impressive two storey visitor centre and 3ft gauge storage building. This had only just been completed - but inside there is a small shop, ticket office and café. The latter, despite its small size, was serving hot and cold refreshments. From the seating area for the café, a set of doors lead out on to what will be a demonstration 3ft gauge platform and track. Upstairs there is a club room. The other part of this building has a two track shed for the 3ft gauge stock. The site is open, with miniature railway rides, daily (Wednesdays excepted) until Sunday 2 September – 10.00 to 17.00. The Trust should be congratulated on what has been achieved on this site in such a short time. A visit is recommended, both for the miniature railway enthusiast and anyone with an interest in the history of the iconic 3ft gauge Southwold Railway. Steamworks can easily be reached by the 88 bus from Halesworth to Southwold, which runs hourly Monday-Saturday and passes the end of Blyth Road. (12/08/18) (Source: Site visit).
West of Fife Munitions Railway - this 2' gauge railway opened to passengers on Sunday 20th May 2018 and is located in the grounds of the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum near Dunfermline. It is owned and operated the Shed 47 Group who also offer standard gauge brake van rides. At present is an "E" run of 280 yards from a simple short platform across the road from Lathalmond Halt on the standard gauge line. Trains run down the other side of Sheds 16 &17 (there is a one road shed on the back of Shed 17) and terminate at the old site Entrance Gates. Here a trailing point indicates the future planned extension along the other side of Gask Burn and along on higher ground above the Bus Museum back towards the main entrance. Trains are normally formed of 4wDH "Sandra" (AK47/1994) with one open coach, running on demand. Fares are by donation (suggested £2 for adults). Both railways normally run from 11.00 during Bus Museum special events, finishing between 16.00 and 17.00, depending how many prospective passengers are still around. On Railway Running days (4th Sunday of the month May - October, except when a special event takes place on the 5th Sunday in July and September) trains run on both railways from 12.00 to 16.00. (12/08/18) (Source: Site visit).
Clyde Valley Express - this is a new 2ft gauge railway at Clyde Valley Family Park - the site of the former Valley International Park at Crossford near Carluke. Some of the trackbed of the previous 2ft gauge railway (closed 2014) has been utilised, but all the track has been relaid, mostly at a slightly higher level. The rails came from Eastriggs, with trackwork being undertaken by Alan Keef Ltd. The Park and railway opened on Tuesday 24th July 2018. The line is now a circuit of 1,000 yards, with one station (Clyde Valley) and a one road shed. The new owners also own East Links Park at Dunbar and are redeveloping the whole area. The new train set is from Germany - a 4-4-0 BE s/o in smart green livery. The entrance to the Park is £10, which includes unlimited riding on the railway. The former Chance 4-2-4 locomotive and coaches are stored at a local farm. (12/08/18) (Source: Report received).
South Tynedale Railway - the railway finally opened the Slaggyford extension on Saturday 9th June 2018. Tuesday 12th June was the first normal running day of the extension - without the need to pre book as was required on 9th & 10th June. (12/08/18) (Source: Railway's web site).
Coast Light Railway - this 2ft gauge railway is located in Skegness Water
Leisure Park, just to the north of the well-known "Bracing"
resort. It opened here on 3rd May 2009 as an "E" run of 650 yards
- but had previously run from the 1960s to 1985 on the outskirts of
Cleethorpes. The layout is an L shape with one station (Walls Lane) on the
short side of the L and a run-round loop at the far end. There is a five
road shed on a spur from the station. An extension of 150 yards at the
run-round loop end was opened on Sunday 27th May 2018 - taking the railway
almost to the end of a landing strip, which is also located in the Water
Park, which mostly contains a camp site and permanent caravans. (12/08/18)
(Source: Site visit).
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway - the extension to Broadway opened on Good Friday, 30th March 2018. This extends the line to 13m 75ch (23/05/18) (Source: Railway's website).
Top Field Light Railway - a new line is always good news and this one is 7 1/4" gauge and runs adjacent to the standard gauge Whitwell & Reepham Railway. As the name suggests it operates in a field - partly used for camping - above Whitwell & Reepham station. The first passenger trains ran on 4 December 2016 and by the end of the 2017 season it had reached around 70 yards in length on a "E" run. The line has now reached a length of 170 yards and a conclusion for the time being. Beyond the current end of line it is necessary to build a level crossing across the field access road. Work this year includes remodelling and improving the station area and provision of a stock shed. The railway, which is operated by the Whitwell & Reepham Model Engineering Club, normally runs from Easter to October on the first Sunday of the month and during special events on the Whitwell & Reepham Railway. Access to the railway is via the standard gauge railway yard. (23/05/18) (Source: Site visit).
Riverside Miniature Railway - this 7 1/4" gauge railway opened an extension on Good Friday, 30 March 2018. It is now a full circuit of 340 yards. Some limited ground works have also been undertaken for "Phase 2" - another circuit, off the newly completed circuit with triangular junctions. The railway suffered from minor flooding, especially of the access pathway, during early April and was unable to operate on a few occasions. The station currently only has one track, but the trackbed is in position for two other lines. (23/05/18) (Source: Site visit).
Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust - the Trust operates trains from the fully restored Midsomer Norton South station over the former Somerset & Dorset Railway towards Chilcompton. It held a Spring Gala over the weekend of 10/11 March 2018, which saw the opening of an extension bringing the line closer to the infilled approach to Chilcompton Tunnel. This new section, opened on Saturday 10 March, extends the line from the previous passenger limit at 12m 42ch to a stop board at 12m 60ch. The track currently ends at 12m 62ch, although work continues towards Chilcompton Tunnel. (17/03/18) (Source: Site visit).
Fenn Bell Miniature Railway - this 7 1/4" gauge railway ran at the Fenn Bell Inn at St Mary Hoo near Rochester. Sadly, the line has closed - the last trains being Santa Specials in December 2017. The line was lifted in February 2018. (17/03/18) (Source: Report received).
Gwili Miniature Railway - the 7 1/4" gauge miniature railway, is now unfortunately, out of use - as from November 2017. A recent Gwili Railway newsletter reports that it would regrettably "remain closed until further notice". (18/02/18) (Source: Gwili Railway).
West Parley Miniature Railway - this 7 1/4" gauge railway, located at Plowmans Garden Centre, seems to have suffered a set-back. Its web site, when checked in early February, carried this message: "We regret to advise that owing to circumstances totally beyond the Railway's control it will not be possible to run trains at Easter 2018 as previously advertised nor do we expect to be able to run trains in the immediate future. As soon as plans currently being formulated have been finalised this website will be updated as appropriate so please check back soon". The last trains ran for Santa in December 2017. Any further information would be welcome. (18/02/18) (Source: Railway's website).
Review of 2017: As for comings and goings, the "headline" figures are typical of recent years: 10 deletions and 9 additions. For some years the total number of railways listed in Minor Railways has been almost static at around 520. Taking the closures first - the majority have closed, not because the railways were no longer viable, but because the site owners had other plans for the land (Pentney, Exmouth & the Electric Railway Museum at Coventry). The loss of the recently opened Penrhyn Quarry Railway has still not yet been clearly explained. Closure of the long standing 10 1/4" gauge railway on the seafront at Exmouth is a sad loss and another nail in the coffin of the British seaside miniature railway. The closure of the Edinburgh Model Engineers line at Newliston is due to an entirely different and more positive reason - the Society are moving to a bigger and better site. Balancing the closures is the appearance of 9 new railways. The majority of these are of the smaller gauges: 7 1/4" and 10 1/4". However, the opening (albeit of only a short section) of the historic standard gauge Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway is a significant step forward. The growth of Statfold Barn as an enthusiast mecca continues with the opening of a 3ft gauge tramway. What most rate as a unique addition to Minor Railways is "Mail Rail" - an opening of a small section of the fully underground Post Office Railway to passengers. Not the first minor railway to be fully underground, but certainly an unusual one. As for the larger railways, both the Swanage and Gwili Railways have seen new track opened. In Dorset, the Swanage Railway commenced running regular trains to and from Wareham - although not operated by their locomotives and rolling stock, nor seven days a week in the season. After many years of effort, the Gwili Railway opened their long awaited extension south from Bronwydd Arms to Abergwili Junction on the outskirts of Carmarthen. (01/01/18)
Bangs Galore & Gunpowder Creek Railway - this 7 1/4" gauge line runs inside the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey. At the start of the 2017 season (the February half-term) the line was "completed", with a new northern terminus called Blue Lab North. It is now a 320 yards "E" layout. (01/01/18) (Source: Royal Gunpowder Mills website).
Miniature Railway - this railway is owned and operated by the Kings Lynn
Model Engineers. They opened a new railway on 30th July 2017 - nearby their
previous site - still in the grounds of the Lynnsport Leisure Centre
(which straddles the alignment of the former Hunstanton - Kings Lynn line).
The railway consists of a circuit of 5"/7 1/4" gauge - around 230
yards in length. There are two platforms and a by-pass line at the station.
A normal ride consists of two circuits - one which uses the bypass line.
(01/01/18) (Source: Report Received).
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