Boost for railway as major funding agreed

Greenrigg Bridge. The platform will be built close by. Picture by Pat Murphy
Greenrigg Bridge. The platform will be built close by. Picture by Pat Murphy

A major grant will help pave the way for a heritage railway development to extend its line, as the ambitious project moves ever closer to completion.

The Aln Valley Railway (AVR) has been successful in its application for funding to construct a new platform and run-round loop at Greenrigg, approximately half of the way towards its ultimate goal of reaching Alnmouth Station.

The Rural Development Programme for England grant, together with 20 per cent match-funding from sustainable transport charity Sustrans, amounts to £146,600.

The funding will cover groundwork costs, track work, including buffer stops and railway points, construction material for the platform and the purchase of a coach for conversion into a café/waiting room/toilet facility.

The platform at Greenrigg will provide a destination for passengers who may wish to alight for a picnic by the river, continue their journey on foot to experience wildlife or visit beauty spots, such as the Cawledge viaduct or the River Aln, which can be crossed nearby using stepping stones.

The new platform will be called Greenrigg Halt and the loop will enable the locomotive to run around the coaches so that it is always at the head of the train. Passengers will be able to watch this manoeuvre from the platform.

The platform, track-work and points for the run-round loop will be laid by AVR volunteers. The surrounding area will also be cleared and landscaped providing access to the platform from the nearby road.

The waiting room, toilets and café will be located in a carriage parked in a siding at the platform. This carriage will be restored and equipped by the AVR’s carriage department.

When complete, it will enable the AVR to offer a 1.5-mile train ride to a specific destination, more than doubling the current journey available from Lionheart Station, in Alnwick.

This should result in an increase in the number of paying passengers and a rise in revenue for the railway. The Greenrigg toilets will be useful for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

A response about a grant application submitted by Northumberland County Council for an adjacent cycleway and fencing is expected in August.