The first passenger trains for 2023 start running during the school spring half term holiday with services between Stanhope and Wolsingham on Sunday 19th, Wednesday 22nd, Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th February. More information about these trains can be found in the 'Timetables & Fares' section of this website. There will also be services running on weekends later in March and during April.
These trains will be operated using the Class 142 Pacer '142078', which is owned by the Weardale Railway Trust. After a period of maintenance and thorough examination by our engineering team at Wolsingham Depot, the pacer was passed for traffic and moved to Stanhope at which point training for drivers and guards could commence.
During the past few weeks, there has been an intensive period of conversion training and assessments for drivers and guards on the operation of the pacer with frequent training runs taking place between Stanhope and Broadwood Level Crossing near Frosterley to allow ample opportunities for train crews to practice arriving and departing stations.
Unlike the first generation diesel units such as the Class 122 'Bubble Car', the second generation pacers have electrical interlocking in place to ensure that the train cannot move unless the doors are operated and closed though the correct sequence. There are also further checks required by the guard, both inside and outside of the train before the doors can be released for the passengers to use in order to ensure that it is safe for them to board and alight. Assessments were carried out during the second week of February with all volunteers training on the pacer qualifying and being successfully passed out.
As well as training on the 142 pacer, a series of route learning trips were run from Scotch Isle Loop to Bishop Auckland West Station for Trust volunteers using the company's Wickham Trolley 'DX68089' as part of their route knowledge assessment. No passenger trains have run to Bishop Auckland since 2019, so it was important that all volunteers undertook a route assessment to ensure that they are safe and competent to operate trains in this section, in readiness for services recommencing in the spring.
This week there has been a flurry of activity at Stanhope Station with Trust volunteers and staff from Weardale Railway Limited busy preparing the station for our visitors, whilst clearing up the mountains of leaves that had amassed during the storage of the Mk3 coaches in the 'down' platform. The pacer was also given a deep clean inside and out before it carries its first passengers on our line.
After providing a sterling service operating all of our heritage service trains during 2022, the 'Bubble Car' is taking a well deserved rest whilst undergoing some maintenance. Work has started to paint the seat frames and reupholster the remaining seat covers in the smaller passenger saloon.
During the half term week, there will be various art and craft activities for the family taking place in 'The Story Train' buffet coach at Stanhope Station as part of their 'Creativity Week'. Entry is free and will be open on the days that trains are running. The Weardale Makers Market will also have some stalls along the platform at Stanhope.
Weardale Railway Limited have an exciting programme of events planned throughout this year, such as photography trains and Christmas specials, which we will announce on this website and social media as they are confirmed. We look forward to welcoming you to the railway in 2023!
1 - Class 142 Pacer ‘142078’ stabled at Stanhope - 31st January 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
2 - Guards training on pacer at Frosterley Station - 20th January 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
3 - Crossing the River Wear at Stanhope - 7th December 2022 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
4 - Driver Keith McNally in the cab of 142078 - 28th January 2023 (Photo: Graeme Carroll)
5 - Guards training on pacer at Frosterley Station - 28th January 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
6 & 7 - Wickham Trolley at Witton-le-Wear Crossing en route to Bishop Auckland with Trust volunteers
onboard as part of their route knowledge assessment - 18th January 2023 (Photos: Tom Hatton)
8 & 9 - Wickham Trolley at Bishop Auckland West Station during route learning trip - 18th January 2023 (Photos: Tom Hatton)
10 - Crossing Etherley viaduct in the Wickham Trolley - 18th January 2023 (Photo: Tom Hatton)
11 & 12 - Cleaning the Class 142 pacer at Stanhope Station - 17th February 2023 (Photos: Ruth Carroll)