Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway extension plan hits buffers

Wharfedale Observer: Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway  volunteer Tim Wainer Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway volunteer Tim Wainer

Plans by the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway to extend its popular miniature railway has temporarily come up against the buffers.

Having ploughed on this winter laying a good length of the seven-and-a-quarter inch gauge track, they got the red flag from Craven District Council planners. Seemingly, it needed planning permission.

Work has now stopped at Bolton Abbey station where the small railway has been a feature for more than ten years.

Railway volunteers are awaiting retrospective planning permission before they can carry on and extend the track by another two thirds. They do not anticipate refusal.

“It’s ironic that we don’t need permission to lay track on the big railway, but it seems we do for the miniature one,” said railway business manager Stephen Walker.

“Our Light Railway Order, which we got when we launched the steam railway project in 1979 and restricts the speed to 25mph, allows a number of things without the need of planning permission, like laying track.

“Eventually, we’re hoping to extend the miniature railway a considerable distance to the end of the car park to give visitors a much longer ride.

“It’s popular with children. When families arrive and they have to wait for a train, it gives them something else to enjoy.”

The extended track passes the site of the former weigh station, where the weight of coal in wagons was calculated.

It also passes an area where, before the Second World War, a camping coach was located which holidaymakers could hire when staying in the Dales.

This is the second year that the railway will not be holding Thomas the Tank Engine events – the licence costs were getting too high.

But the increase in the number of visiting coach parties – there were 300 between April and October last year – has made up for it, added Mr Walker.

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