ONE of the most celebrated engines in railway literature - Thomas the Tank Engine - will run on the revived Wensleydale line this month.

The children's favourite, which paid a visit to the yard at Leeming Bar station in June, will this time be puffing between Bedale and Morton-on-Swale on October 30 and 31.

It is believed the outings by Thomas will represent the first time in 37 years that steam has been in action on the line.

In May 1967, the Class K1 steam locomotive 62005 hauled the Three Dales railtour taking in the Wensleydale, Weardale and Richmond branches in one day.

Christopher Awdry, for whom the Thomas stories were written by his father, the Rev William Awdry, will sign copies of his own railway books at Leeming Bar station during the Day Out With Thomas events.

Hundreds of tickets have already been sold to local people, who were given priority booking.

Thomas, hauling three coaches under its own power and accompanied by a Class 20 diesel engine, will operate 14 services between the two stops.

Scheduled Wensleydale Railway journeys between Leeming Bar and Redmire will continue with the usual train specially licensed as Daisy the DMU, another character from the stories.

Wensleydale Railway marketing director Ruth Annison said: "It has taken considerable ingenuity to run Thomas and to keep the normal services running."

Marketing manager Emma Haley said a special ticket offer would enable passengers to combine trips with both Thomas and the normal services at a favourable rate.

She added that Yorkshire Water had sponsored refreshments for Thomas's boiler with a water tanker containing about 15,000 litres.

Two vintage buses will run free park and ride services throughout both days for the half-mile journey from The Lodge at Leeming Bar and McDonalds, just off the northbound A1 at Leeming Bar. There is a large parking area behind McDonalds.

Other attractions will include storytelling and balloon modelling, a magician and a colouring competition.

Day Out With Thomas tickets are available on the Wensleydale Railway booking line 08454 505474 and more details are on the web site