Weardale Railway Limited and The Auckland Project have announced that the railway between Wolsingham and Bishop Auckland will reopen to passenger trains on the weekend of Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April, coinciding with the 2023 Bishop Auckland Food Festival.
The first passenger train to run in this section since 2019 will be a photography special that will run as far as Etherley Viaduct on Sunday 5th March, using the Class 142 Pacer '142078', owned by the Weardale Railway Trust. Therefore the first passenger services into Bishop Auckland West station for over three years will be on the 22nd April.
Since The Auckland Project purchased the Weardale Railway in January 2020, there has been ongoing investment to reopen the line with major track engineering works taking place along the route, including repairs to the embankment at Broken Bank between Escomb and Bishop Auckland.
A new 150 metre footpath connecting the Weardale Railway's Bishop Auckland West platform to the national network station has also been completed by contractors CML on behalf of Network Rail and in collaboration with the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership (BLCRP) and Weardale Railway Limited. This path creates a shorter and direct route for visitors between the two stations.
General Manager of Weardale Railway Limited, Wayne Dixon said: "We’ve been working hard to get Weardale Railway back on track for the people of Bishop Auckland and Weardale. Thousands of passengers have enjoyed a ride on the railway since we opened the line between Stanhope and Wolsingham in May 2023. This year we hope even more passengers will be able to enjoy our services, as we expand our timetable and extend the line to Bishop Auckland."
David Maddan, CEO Development for The Auckland Project said: "The reopening of the line from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope is a landmark moment and we are delighted with the progress that has been made to date. We have ambitious plans for the future of Weardale Railway, which we hope will benefit the residents of Weardale as well as those who wish to explore the beauty of the North Pennines AONB by train."
Staff and Trust volunteers have been undergoing training and route knowledge refreshers with all those assessed being successfully passed out to operate trains in that section.
There will be variation to the operating calendar with some days seeing trains running between Stanhope and Bishop Auckland and on other days between Stanhope to Wolsingham throughout 2023. Details of these services and other special trains will be published on the website once confirmed. Trains will call at Frosterley, Kingfisher Halt and Witton-le-Wear on the days services pass through those stations.
Tickets can be purchased at Stanhope Station, on the train (including cash and card payments), or in advance online by visiting https://weardale-railway.digitickets.co.uk/tickets.
1 - Class 142 Pacer '142078' at Frosterley Station - 28th January 2023 (Photo: Graeme Carroll)
2 - 142078 approaching Stanhope - 28th January 2023 (Photo: Graeme Carroll)
3 - Frosterley Station - 28th January 2023 (Photo: Graeme Carroll)
4 - 142078 at Stanhope on the first day of services this year - 19th February 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
5 & 6 - The new connecting path at Bishop Auckland - 18th January 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
Related News Articles:
The Auckland Project - Railway line from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope to reopen this spring
The Northern Echo - Train services on Weardale Railway from Stanhope to Bishop Auckland