Friday April 12 to Sunday April 14 will see the Weardale Railway hold its annual diesel gala, featuring five members of the BARS fleet and maybe a couple of surprises as well!
31190 will be making its first gala appearance in its new Golden Ochre livery and will be supported by Network Rail yellow 31465 and blue-liveried pair 31106 and 31459. Also appearing for the final time at Weardale will be 31285, which is due to be transferred to sister site, the Dartmoor Railway, shortly afterwards. This loco has not seen passenger traffic since the last diesel event a year ago.
The event will feature two x five coach sets of Mk2 stock, all of which will be in Inter-City livery for the first time. All trains will run from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope and will pass at Scotch Isle, near Wolsingham, which is currently being revised to full passing loop status. Locos will be changed at Bishop Auckland and Stanhope at the end of each journey this year.
Further interesting workings may take place subject to availability, with at least one 08 being possible from the RMS fleet, subject to a satisfactory locomotive being made available at the time of the gala. This will be confirmed nearer the date.
Visitors will be able to park at Wolsingham and Stanhope, and there are connections to Northern services at Bishop Auckland station.
Local businesses are supporting the event, which is taking place on the same days as the Bishop Auckland food festival. The Black Bull Inn adjacent to Frosterley Station will be putting on a mini beer festival featuring ales from the Allendale, Wylam, Five Bridges, Tyneside, Blaydon and Consett micro-breweries while the Caps Off refreshment room at Bishop Auckland station will have real ale available.
The railway’s own well-received Number 40 café at Stanhope station will be open from 0730 each day for breakfast and will continue to serve home-cooked food all day. A unique scheme will enable on-train ordering while on-route to Stanhope with fast pick-up at the journey’s end, so that customers do not have to miss any mileage throughout the day.
Tickets for the newly-expanded three-day event will be available from Bishop Trains at Bishop Auckland in advance or from Stanhope or Bishop Auckland stations on the event days. Those joining at intermediate stations may purchase tickets on the train. One, two- and three-day rovers will be available as will senior and child tickets.
The Weardale Railway in County Durham is a 15.5-mile branch line, commencing from the junction with Network Rail at Bishop Auckland station which rises 320 feet along its length with a maximum gradient of 1:95.