A trio of station developments at narrow gauge railways are in the news this month: one revived, one hoping for HLF funding, one secures planning permission.
The first Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway train to depart from Sittingbourne Viaduct station since December 26 2008 (when the line was facing the threat of complete closure) will leave for Kemsley Down on April 6.
This departure at the start of the S&KLR’s 2012 season marks the reopening of the 2ft 6in gauge line over its full length, trains during 2011 having been restricted to the Milton Regis (Asda) halt to Kemsley Down section only.
Although the future of Sittingbourne’s heritage railway is now secure, the line’s surroundings are markedly different. At the Sittingbourne terminus the adjacent paper mill (part of the reason for construction of the railway) has been demolished and the overhead and ground level pipelines so much a feature hitherto have been removed. Buildings at the station have also had to be demolished following vandalism and much reconstruction work needs to be undertaken.
Further along the line, the new Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road, which crosses above the railway between Milton Regis (Asda) Halt and Kemsley Down, will be open by next April.
THE Leighton Buzzard Railway application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for financial help towards its Museum Gateway Project is likely to be considered in March.
The Bedfordshire line’s stage one HLF bid seeks initial approval of a £516,800 award (about 80% of the budgeted costs) with development grant of £17,900 to assist preparation of the full stage two submission towards redevelopment of Page’s Park station.
LBR’s accredited museum status incorporates the entire length of the railway and the project, formally launched in October 2010, aims to provide an appropriate gateway to the museum at Page’s Park, hence its title. This encompasses replacement of the life-expired station building with larger premises (enabling uses by residents of neighbouring new housing estates), rebuilding a platform and improvements to the station approaches. The first phase of the project (not included in the application) is an extended car park which came in to use in time for LBR Santa operations.
The railway already holds money paid under a Section 106 agreement towards development of community facilities plus donations already received.
Donations towards the Museum Gateway Project can be made on line by visiting www.justgiving.com/LeightonBuzzardRailway/donate, or follow the Museum Gateway link on LBR’s website at www.buzzrail.co.uk.
Models of the planned new building form collection boxes for smaller donations at the railway.
The Corris Railway has been granted planning permission for redevelopment of the Corris station site, including reproduction of the station’s 1878-built overall roof demolished in 1968.
An important element of the plans is construction of a new doctor's surgery. This will replace the Portakabin surgery adjacent to the present short platform which limits what can presently be done at the station. With just a short platform currently available, trains have had to be operated in push-pull mode since the Corris reopened in 2002. The permission secured also covers a run-round loop and a toilet block.
The railway has to secure building regulations approval, clarify various issues and progress necessary land purchases before work can commence. Funding options are being explored.