THE wraps came off rolling stock and stations yesterday as Wensleydale moved a step closer to a return to the railways.

Wensleydale Railway Plc announced last week at hopes to run its first passenger services between Leeming Bar and Leyburn on July 4.

But, yesterday, the company was able to confirm it has now taken control of the line and was therefore able to show guests around facilities that it hopes will prove both a valuable addition to the public transport network and a new tourist attraction.

"We are now unusual if not unique in the UK in that we have taken over the line and have control of the track, the stations and the trains," said chief executive, Scott Handley.

Fares have to be confirmed but Mr Handley said he was confident they would prove competitive.

"We have chosen to run a diesel train to begin with as it best matches what people said they wanted," he said.

"However, steam trains are something we will consider in future; we are not an heritage line first and foremost but if they help draw people in and keep more cars off the roads then we are prepared to give them a go."

Although stops will be limited to Leeming and Leyburn when the line is re-opened in July, the newly-restored station at Bedale could also be added before the seasonal passenger services cease in October.

The company also hopes to add Northallerton next year - opening the line to the national and international rail network - with Aysgarth to follow by 2005.