Volunteers needed to lend hand to help railway work

Northern end of the Lionheart site with members of the tracklaying team, a hopper wagon filled with ballast, also the railway's ATLAS road-railer.  The original line from Alnmouth to Alnwick lies in a cutting just behind the hopper wagon.  The 'green flag' represents the current extent of tracklaying.
Northern end of the Lionheart site with members of the tracklaying team, a hopper wagon filled with ballast, also the railway's ATLAS road-railer. The original line from Alnmouth to Alnwick lies in a cutting just behind the hopper wagon. The 'green flag' represents the current extent of tracklaying.
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An appeal for volunteers has been made to help progress work on a heritage railway development.

Most of the track has been laid at the Aln Valley Railway’s Alnwick site.

But with the doors opening to the public in Easter, and short train rides planned, efforts are being stepped up for the start of the new season.

And more help is needed.

The jobs list is varied and suitable for all skill levels. Not all tasks involve heavy lifting.

Volunteers are needed to help with clearing the trackbed and sorting the drainage.

Guards and drivers for the trains are wanted, as are platelayers to lay track and help with restoring and maintaining the rolling stock and looking after the civil plant.

Helpers are needed for the cafe and for other site duties such as looking after the public, gardeners, shop assistants, painters and decorators, and bricklayers.

Tom Spence, Aln Valley Railway volunteer coordinator, said: “We plan to have some stock available for carrying passengers at Easter, with our main timetable running from May onwards, so there’s lots to do and we need help in all departments.

“We are organising into departments – operations, mechanical, civil and permanent way, shop and cafe, site management, gardening and so on.

“We would like volunteers to choose an initial department in line with their interests to learn the ropes and be safe around the railway, under someone’s wing – that’s not to say you can’t work at other jobs in due course – and if they’re keen and interested, then in time maybe take ownership of specific roles and tasks.

“We do expect volunteers who are interested in train work to work their way up by helping out on general duties and seeing how the railway runs before starting operations training, but they will get their chance.”

The aim of the project is to reopen the disused railway line that ran between Alnwick and Alnmouth Station as a heritage tourist attraction and to provide a safe cycle route and footpath between the two locations.

As part of the preparations for the new season, the railway is holding a working week event, called Marchrailfest.

It will run from Saturday to Sunday, March 10, and won’t just focus on laying track, but also work around the site, such as jacking and packing the running lines, connecting point work to a lever frame, continued restoration of the Mk1 coach, a general site tidy up, gardening and preparing the shop and cafe area.

There are also ways that people can support the railway financially, such as through its Sponsor a Sleeper appeal and its new 100+Club.

For information about fund-raising and to get involved with volunteering or the Marchrailfest, visit www.alnvalleyrailway.co.uk. Alternatively, call Tom on 01665 572028 or email tom@alnvalleyrailway.co.uk