We start this post with an apology as it is well over a month since we posted a virtual locomotive roster. We haven’t been idle during this time, in fact quite the opposite and hence the time has flown by.
HOWEVER, with out steam passenger trains returning on Wednesday 19th August, we have set time aside to report on what has been happening since the Government lifted restrictions and we started to return the Railway to normality (whatever ‘normal’ is).
Unlike other heritage railways that returned steam services in July, the KWVR had the not insignificant task of making us a complete railway once again. Readers will recall that when the Prime Minister locked us all down, the work on replacing Bridge 11 had to cease, leaving us with a railway severed just south of Ingrow Tunnel. If you haven’t read James Barlow’s account of the work carried out prior to lockdown, please follow this link for an excellent account of the work undertaken by our volunteers and contractors. Just to remind readers of how the bridge was left, top photograph and the view south, bottom photograph after most of the work was complete and the KWVR is an almost complete railway once again.
No doubt, James will write one of his excellent accounts how the project was finally completed – a great triumph for all involved.
‘Worth Saving’ Appeal & Grants
In April we launched the ‘Worth Saving’ Appeal was launched to raise funds to combat the devastating effects of COVID-19, its aim to raise that £200,000. By mid-June we were within a gnats whisker of achieving our target and shortly after through the generosity of our supporters, we crashed through our target. Everyone here at the KWVR are delighted and thankful that, during our hour of need, our faithful supporters from far and wide have donated to our appeal, joined the Friday night quiz and bought the SAY videos, rallying to the cause so that the target was reached in just over two short months, far exceeding our expectations and has shown all our volunteers, the high esteem that our Railway is held in.
In addition to the success of appeal, the KWVR received grants of £50,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and a donation of £30,000 from the KWVR Trust. All together our fund raising efforts, which includes includes the recovery of ‘Gift Aid’ stands at well over £300,000.
However, massive challenges lie ahead, not least, that it is very likely that we will not see a return to normal visitor levels until well into 2021 (or even 2022) as social distancing, not only reduces our capacity to carry the number of passengers to make the Railway sustainable into the future, but also affects the attitude of you, our visitors, to actually venture out and travel by train once again. So the COVID-19 challenges continue and will affect us for many months to come and, for that reason, our ‘Worth Saving’ appeal will remain open for your donations to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
To donate to the ‘Worth Saving’ Appeal, click HERE.
‘Back to Steam’ Summer Specials
Once the Government eased restrictions which allowed our volunteers, under strict distancing rules, to return to the Railway, not just the Civil Engineering team returned to work, but every department stepped up to the mark under a phased plan to return the railway to operation. Not having turned a wheel in four months, our steam and diesel fleet had to be receive essential maintenance and our carriage fleet had to receive attention to make them fit for traffic. Station staff returned to spruce up the stations ready for a hoped for influx of passengers.
In these current conditions, it was essential that our plans included, not just the running of trains, but providing an environment in which our visitors and staff would feel safe and in conditions that follow Government rules and guidelines. With everything in place the whole process of running trains once again and managing our visitors through the two points of entry needed to be tested to ensure the safety of passengers and staff. An initial trial took place between Oxenhope and Keighley and, once Bridge 11 had been completed, between Oxenhope and Keighley with our volunteers as passengers. These latter trials took place over the last two weekends with the first passenger train over the new Bridge 11, the 10.00 from Oxenhope northbound and the 10.40 from Keighley southbound, on Saturday 8th August.
With these trials successfully concluded, the Railway is now set to open to the public on Wednesday 19th August. Tickets for our trains are only bookable online with all the details of our ‘Back in Steam’ program on the ‘Back in Steam’ page of the KWVR website.
Locomotive roster for Wednesday 19th & Thursday 20th August
Just as it did in June 1968 and June 2018, the THIRD re-opening special will be headed by British Railways ‘Ivatt’ Class 2MT 2-6-2T 41241. at the head of a set compartment coaches (all part of the plan to stay safe during your visit to the Railway)
Currently the ‘Back in Steam’ fleet consists of 41241 and British Railways Class 2MT 2-6-0 78022, both of which took part in our trial weekends, plus Midland Railway Class 4F 0-6-0 43924. Having returned from its aborted appearance (due to COVID-19) at the Bluebell Railway’s gala, Taff Vale Railway Class O2 0-6-2T no. 85 will make up the quartet once maintenance has been completed to make it fir for traffic.