An ambitious heritage railway development could reach another significant milestone this winter, with plans to have trains up and running by the end of February.
Progress on the Aln Valley Railway has been steaming ahead since work began at the Lionheart site in Alnwick in the spring.
And with several hundred metres of track already laid, it is hoped that short train rides will be on offer to the public in a few months’ time.
Roger Jermy, press officer for the railway, said: “The rate of progress we have made has been quite incredible, and that is all to do with the volunteers.
“We are hoping that, by the end of February, we may be able to start running trains on a short length of track, within the confines of the Lionheart site.
“But this is a provisional target, and depends on a number of things, including the weather and how it affects progress.”
The Alnwick section is the first phase of the wider development – to reopen the branch-line from Alnmouth to the town.
Work at Lionheart has included the laying of several items of pointwork.
A new portable building has been erected and this is being refurbished ready for opening in 2013 as a centre to house several model railways, providing an extra attraction at the site.
The railway has also secured a series of trains, such as a maroon-liveried steam locomotive number 9, named Richboro, which has arrived from Bo’ness in Scotland.
A diesel locomotive which saw many years of work at Widdrington’s opencast site has been purchased by an Aln Valley Railway member and will be named Shirley, in memory of his late wife.
Two items of coaching stock have come to the line, including a 63ft-long former British Railways carriage, which has arrived from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Work has already started on the refurbishment of this coach in time for it to be used in the summer of 2013.
A series of open days attracted several thousand people to visit the Lionheart site over the course of the summer/autumn.
The railway is looking for volunteers. Contact the railway via www.alnvalleyrailway.co.uk