Aln Valley Railway volunteers working to overcome shortcomings identified by inspectors

Changes are being made at the Aln Valley Railway after shortcomings were identified by inspectors.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:00 am

Several issues with procedures and management structures were raised by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the industry regulator.

Key areas which require improvement are mainly within maintenance policies, standards and record keeping for its locomotives and on the assessments and recording of competence for people in safety critical roles.

Additionally, remedial work to Cawledge Viaduct needs to be undertaken, although a structural engineer’s report does not preclude trains from running over it.

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Aln Valley Railway. Picture: Pat Murphy

Volunteers at the heritage railway say the ORR findings were not unexpected having recently conducted their own safety management review.

They agreed it would be best to defer re-opening until the issues are resolved, with Covid-19 having affected efforts to correct the shortcomings earlier this year.

They are now working closely with the ORR and are confident they will be able to resolve these issues in time to open at Easter 2021, running to a new platform at Greenrigg Halt.

Tom Spence, chairman of Aln Valley Railway, said: “We are saddened to bring news such as this.

"Reports from our regulatory body are often seen as bad news, but on this occasion we are looking forward to working with the ORR as they have given us a clear path forward to enable us to commence our passengers services once more at Easter 2021.

“The Covid-19 situation has been a stressful time for most people, including our railway, but as we try to look at this in a positive light, this pandemic has given us the opportunity to revisit our procedures and management structures.”

The Aln Valley Railway has made great strides since the first track was laid on the former Alnwick to Alnmouth branch line only eight years ago. It was officially opened by the Duke of Northumberland and former Berwick MP Lord Beith in 2014.

The opening of Greenrigg Halt will mean that, for the first time, the railway will go ‘from somewhere to somewhere’. The long term aim is to extend it to Alnmouth.

If you feel you have any skills that would be valuable to the organisation, please email [email protected].

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