A TREMENDOUS feat of engineering to repair a significant landslip which threatened the future of a Dales railway has been carried out by just three men.

Wensleydale Railway is comparing the job to restoring the line at Dawlish, near Devon, washed away in this year's storms, which hit the headlines when it was repaired in record time by more than 300 network rail staff and contractors.

The £100,000 job on the Wensleydale Railway has taken less than four months after a landslip at Akebar, between Bedale and Leyburn, effectively cut the 16 mile railway in half and caused the suspension of services from Christmas 2013.

Railway employees Tim Williamson and Ray Thornton have worked tirelessly alongside civil engineer Colin Brown to reopen the line.

Wensleydale Railway Chairman David Haxby said:”It has very much been down to these three engineers.

"Other volunteers have helped move stone and backed them up, but the slip at Akebar was on a very narrow site so there was only really room for them."

He added: “It has been a magnificent achievement to get it open. It wasn’t as big a job as Dawlish but while network rail, which leases the line to the Wensleydale Railway, has been supportive they haven’t been able to provide any assistance.

“We had to issue a special appeal for funds to meet the estimated cost and all our supporters and members have really rallied round, but it’s been a very tough time.

"Not only did we have to carry out repairs but we weren’t making any money and it really could have been the end for us.”

The railway is now hoping for it’s busiest season ever.

It is reopening tomorrow (Tuesday, April 15) and will run services throughout Easter and over the summer including special services during the Tour de France Grand Depart when with many roads closed it will be the main route into and out of Wensleydale.

Mr Haxby added: “This came as a massive blow to the railway, and we have had to divert funds from other projects - such as building an engine shed, opening a station in Northallerton and planning a future extension to Castle Bolton and Aysgarth Falls - in order to stabilise the embankment and reopen the line.

"We are now looking forward and carrying on fundraising to try and cover the costs.”