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South Tynedale Railway

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South Tynedale Railway

South Tynedale Railway
Polish locomotive Nakło at Kirkhaugh Station
Terminus Lintley
Commercial operations
Name South Tynedale Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Stations 3
Length 3 12 miles (5.6 km)
Preserved gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Commercial history
Closed 1976
Preservation history
1976 Former branch line to Alston closed.
1983 South Tynedale Railway opens to the Public, for the very first time.
1986 STR reaches Gilderdale
1996 Gilderdale-Kirkhaugh extension completed
1999 STR extends to Kirkhaugh,
Gilderdale station closed after 13 years
2009 STR latest extension granted
2012 STR returns to Lintley Halt
2013 STR marks 30 years of operating trains along the line
South Tynedale Railway
South Tynedale Railway is located in Northumberland
South Tynedale Railway
South Tynedale Railway
South Tynedale Railway shown within Northumberland
OS grid reference
List of places

The South Tynedale Railway is a preserved, 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in Northern England and is England's highest narrow gauge railway. The route runs from Alston in Cumbria to Lintley in Northumberland via the South Tyne, Gilderdale and Whitley Viaducts.

The railway is operated by a charity, The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society, which was registered in 1983.[1]

Passenger trains operate on the railway Spring through to Autumn and attract 40,000 people to the district every year. Information about exact dates are on the railway's web site[1] Special trains operate including Santa Special trains on certain days in December each year. Although no Santa trains ran in 2011 as volunteer efforts were put into completing the extension to Lintley in time for the 2012 season, they ran again in 2012 on two successive weekends, 15–16 and 22–23 December. In 2013 Santa trains ran on 14–15 and 21–22 December.

At Alston station there is a cafe and gift shop both operated by the railway company. Free car and coach parking is available adjacent to the station which is located about 14 mile (0.40 km) north of the town on Hexham road.

The present line is now currently more than 3 12 miles (5.6 km) in length and there are plans to extend the line by a further 1 14 miles (2.0 km) to Slaggyford. The STR is built on the southern end of the track bed of the disused 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Haltwhistle to Alston Branch Line, which formerly connected with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Haltwhistle.

The popular South Tyne Trail shares the trackbed with the railway, fenced off for safety. It is a walking and cycle trail that provides a cut-off for part of its length for the Pennine Way national trail.

The standard gauge branch line was closed down by British Rail on 1 May 1976 and the track bed is mostly intact. Exceptions: at Lambley where the station house and garden are in private ownership: near Haltwhistle where construction of the A69 Haltwhistle by-pass road severed the trackbed on the bypass itself and on an adjoining secondary road. The Society has in its principal aims a hope to completely reopen a branch line railway to Haltwhistle.

This is a route-map template for a UK railway.

For information on use of this template, refer to , for pictograms used see .


  • Signalling Infrastucture 1
  • Developments 2
  • Locomotives 3
  • Passenger rolling stock 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Signalling Infrastucture

The signal box was dismantled when British Rail closed the branch so a new box had to be sought and erected. The replacement signal box at Alston formerly stood at Ainderby, on the branch line to Redmire, it being acquired from British Rail and re-erected on a new brick base. The level crossing barriers and mechanism came from the now-closed How Mill station on the Newcastle and Carlisle line.

The signal box houses a 21 lever frame, made by McKenzie and Holland. In addition there is a manually operated gate machine to operate the level crossing barriers - this combination of manual gate wheel and lifting barriers (rather that gates) being somewhat rare in the UK. The frame has had a chequered life as it was constructed for the Highland Railway by McK&H and first installed at Kingussie. It was removed in 1926 when a replacement level crossing mechanism was installed in an emergancy. The frame had developed a crack and had to be sent to England to be repaired by Westinghouse who had taken over McKenzie and Holland in 1920. The frame was then installed on the North Staffordshire Section of the LMS when a road at a level crossing was realigned to cross the railway. The old frame with the gate mechanism at this box was inadequate because of worn bearings so the repaired spare frame from Kingussie was installed by Westinghouse. It remained in service until the NS signal box closed. The frame was sold to the South Tyndale railway and installed at its present location.

The signals are standard BR ones using a former LMS design but the signal to the carriage sidings is unusual. It is a semaphore ground signal mounted onto a conventional signal post.


Confirmation was received in November 2009 that a grant of £100,000 had been awarded by the Groundwork UK Community Spaces programme which will be used to fund the restoration of three historic railway bridges on the former Haltwhistle to Alston line.[1] Northumberland County Council's west area committee also granted consent for a completely new station at Lintley and the new extension to Lintley opened to traffic on 1 April 2012.[1] Rails extend across Lintley viaduct for a distance of about 200 metres from the new station to form a headshunt for works trains.

The extended line from Kirkhaugh to Lintley Halt was officially opened in Saturday 12 May 2012 by Lord Inglewood, a long-time friend of the railway society.

On the same day Cumbria County Council handed over documents confirming a Community Asset Transfer of the Society's leased land in Cumbria. Work to gain a similar status in Northumberland is ongoing with Northumberland County Council.

In September 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund made an award that allows development work on a full bid for the Slaggyford extension to proceed. The bid will also include innovative 'green' initiatives to update the railway's buildings, equipment and infrastructure in and around Alston. The final outcome of the bid is anticipated in January 2014.

In December 2012 a serious wash-out of a retaining wall about 50 metres north of Alston Station threatened to stop the popular Santa trains. Quick work by the railway's track gang to skew the main running line saved the day. The STR is left with a significant fund-raising issue to fully repair the 160-year-old wall, restore the lineside footpath and return the main line to use. Temporary repairs were completed by mid-January 2013 whilst fundraising efforts continue to effect a long term and full repair. The main line was moved back to its proper alignment before the 2013 season began.

During January 2013 the railway society's ambitions that, one day, trains will again run all the way from Alston to Haltwhistle moved a couple of steps closer. British Railways Board (Residuary) Ltd. improved upon and changed an earlier offer that now transfers a 7-metre wide strip of land to the society. The land runs parallel to the Alston bay platform at Haltwhistle mainline station and provides sufficient space for proper station and run-round facilities for narrow gauge trains. This important step allows the society to approach Network Rail for agreement to use its land alongside the platform and the platform itself. Additionally a small parcel of land that allows access to the station area from the Alston Arches Viaduct will be made available to the railway society.

In early February the South Tynedale Railway joined the Heritage Skills Initiative and an engineering skills trainee will join the South Tynedale's mainly volunteer workforce in March. The one-year project is in partnership with the North of England Civic Trust backed by a bursary and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme is specifically aimed at overcoming skills shortages in traditional engineering crafts. The new trainee will work alongside the railway's skilled volunteer engineers looking after the railway's locomotives and rolling stock. The new member of the railway's team will concentrate on developing a new works train to support the STR's specialist permanent way team as they prepare for work on the 1 14 miles (2.0 km) extension from Lintley Halt to Slaggyford from 2015.

At the Annual General Meeting in November 2013 the railway society's chairman signed agreements that hand responsibility for the viaducts at Lambley and Haltwhistle to the society. They were formerly owned by the now defunct North Pennine Heritage Trust. This important acquisition lays down further building blocks towards the society's aim to eventually reopen the full length of the branch line.

On 4 February 2014 the STR announced a £5.5 million development project that includes just over £4.2 million awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.(source HLF and STR press information releases)[2]


  • Naklo – Polish built 0-6-0 No. 10 of 1957 - undergoing overhaul.
  • Helen Kathryn – private owner Henschel & Son 0-4-0T No. 14 of 1948 - stored awaiting overhaul.
  • Thomas Edmondson – Henschel 0-4-0T No. 6 of 1918 - in ticket and operational, returned to service in 2006.
  • CarlisleHunslet Engine Company 0-4-2T No. 16 of 1937 – stored awaiting restoration – funding in place to send to works for full overhaul and return to traffic by 2016.
  • BarberThomas Green & Son 0-6-2 No. 441 of 1908 – in ticket and operational, restoration completed in 2015.
  • 740 - Orenstein & Koppel 0-6-0T No. 2343 of 1907 - stored awaiting overhaul.
  • Diesel Naworth Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 4 of 1952 – operational.
  • Diesel Hunslet 0-4-0DM No. 9 of 1952 – operational.
  • Diesel Cumbria Hunslet 4wd No. 11 of 1967 – operational.
  • Diesel Old Rusty Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0DM No. 18 of 1961 – operational.
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