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North Yorkshire Moors Railway plans anniversary celebration
A HERITAGE railway which carries more passengers than any other in the UK is preparing to mark its 40th anniversary with a series of events to mark its development.
Volunteers who have worked since the 1960s to restore and preserve the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), which runs from Pickering to Grosmont, said they had been astonished by the line’s rising popularity and development.
The 18-mile line, which reopened in 1973 eight years after being axed as part of the Beeching cuts, has become the busiest steam heritage line in the world, carrying about 350,000 passengers in 2009.
John Bruce, who has volunteered on the railway since 1969, said the ambitions of the NYMR Preservation Society had initially been quite modest – residents in isolated North York Moors villages wanted the transport link restored.
First opened in 1836 as the Whitby and Pickering Railway, the railway was planned in 1831 by George Stephenson to open up trade routes from Whitby and was famed for the beautiful scenery it passed through.
Mr Bruce said: “I don’t think anybody envisaged what it would become. The founders wanted to save the railway and bought some small engines that were designed for industrial use that could only pull one carriage.
“It was hoped to restore six miles of the railway, from Grosmont to Ellerbeck, but by the time it opened in 1973 there was 18 miles of track.”
Mr Bruce, the station master at Goathland, said key developments included restoring the derelict Pickering station in the mid- 1970s, constructing workshops in Grosmont for the locomotives, and the laying of extra track at Goathland and Levisham so more trains could run.
Further structural work and years of fundraising has enabled the railway to run large locomotives, such as the Sir Nigel Gresley, which can pull carriages with up to 350 passengers.
Mr Bruce said he hoped the Duchess of Kent, who relaunched the line in 1973, would return to the line as part of the anniversary celebrations alongside revamped locomotives.
Visitors, members and junior volunteers have been challenged to design an emblem for the anniversary, with the winner being announced in October.
The chosen logo, which will include a reference to either NYMR or North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the number 40, is set to feature on all 400,000 NYMR 2013 timetables to mark the landmark.
For more details, visit nymr.co.uk