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: 17th March 2018.
News archive: 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017
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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