A HISTORIC County Durham railway route will triumphantly re-open later this month after a prolonged absence away that has isolated many members of rural communities across the region.

Trains will be back on track at Weardale Railway as staff and volunteers on the popular heritage line prepare for its reopening.

The first passengers will be welcomed back onto the Weardale Railway fleet from May 28th with trains initially running between Stanhope and Wolsingham.

Read more: Weardale Line receives £50k boost - which County Durham locations will benefit?

Weardale Railway was purchased by The Auckland Project in March 2020, which brought it out of administration with a bold vision for its future growth and development. 

Since then, an extensive programme of inspections, network assessments, maintenance and repairs to the infrastructure has been undertaken, together with improvements to the trains.

Wayne Dixon, General Manager at Weardale Railway, said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce a reopening date for Weardale Railway.

The Northern Echo: A train crossing the Weardale line. John Askwith, Weardale Railway Trust.A train crossing the Weardale line. John Askwith, Weardale Railway Trust.

“The route of the railway is beautiful, running as it does through the heart of Weardale, and we look forward to people being able to enjoy it from the safety of a train carriage.

Alongside the re-opening, efforts are still underway to reconnect other locations on the Weardale line, including Wearhead, St John’s Chapel, Witton-le-Wear and Bishop Auckland West.

Currently, investigation works are being undertaken at these locations after a £50k investment was secured last month by North West Durham MP, Richard Holden.

The Northern Echo: The line will reopen Stanhope to Wolsingham. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.The line will reopen Stanhope to Wolsingham. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

To mark the re-opening of the line, Weardale Railway, in conjunction with Durham Police and local councillor, Anita Savory, have launched a safety campaign to help members of the public understand the dangers and legal implications of trespassing on the tracks across Weardale and beyond.

This collaborative initiative will incorporate visits to local schools and wider community venues to spread the safety message far and wide. 

Later in the year, pupils and teachers from participating schools will be invited back to Weardale Railway to find out more about its history and day-to-day running.

The Northern Echo: A safety campaign has been launched ahead of the reopening of the line. Picture: WEARDALE RAILWAY.A safety campaign has been launched ahead of the reopening of the line. Picture: WEARDALE RAILWAY.

Anita Savory, Durham County councillor for Weardale, said: “Community safety is always paramount, it is vitally important that everybody is aware that the railway line is permanently in use again.

“Working together in partnership with Weardale Railway, the local Police and Weardale Action Partnership (WAP), we are endeavouring to send the message out for the safety of the whole community.”

Jamie Clarkson, Community Safety Responder from Weardale Neighbourhood Police Team, added: “We already deliver other safety campaigns in the local schools so it will be great to include the railway safety to our portfolio. 

“If this campaign is successful in Weardale we will look to roll out the programme to the wider communities throughout County Durham.”

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