VOLUNTEERS are facing a £100,000 bill to put a heritage railway back on track for the second time in a year.
A huge landslip forced the closure of part of the Wensleydale Railway last October and it’s just been revealed that repairs will cost far more than the original £40,000 estimate.
It’s the latest blow after the line hit the buffers last year when major repairs had to be carried out in the same area at Akebar, between Bedale and Leyburn.
With just three full time staff the railway group relies on volunteers and funds raised from trips along the 16 mile line which passes through some of the most scenic countryside in the Yorkshire Dales.
General manager Nigel Park said: "Despite an appeal for help to our landlords, Network Rail, we have been left to fix this problem on our own.
"The Wensleydale Railway is very fortunate in that it has skilled and committed people to tackle these issues and I am pleased to say that work has now started and we intend to have the line open for Easter.
"Of course there is a cost, estimated at not far short of £100,000, and we will have to find that over the next four to five months.
“We really could have done without this, we are making big plans for this year with the Tour de France. But Network Rail would simply abandon the line and we ain’t about to let that happen. So we’re carrying on and getting the work done.
"The embankment has given way underneath the track and there is a lot to do but we plan to have the line open for April 14.”
Built originally in the 1850’s, the passenger service was lost in the 1950’s.
But freight traffic taking limestone to Teesside ensured it carried on, backed by army traffic transporting tanks.
In 2003 volunteers performed the Herculean task of reopening the line for passenger traffic and it’s gone from strength to strength.
Wensleydale Railway is planning to launch a public appeal and in the meantime will run limited services with a special event for Valentine’s Day.
Over half term trains will operate, but fares will be abandoned and donations invited. Further information is on www.wensleydalerailway.com