Weardale enters new ownership


LAST YEAR Iowa Pacific Holdings entered into insolvency in the USA, leading to problems for British American Railway Services, in which it was the main shareholder. BARS owned the Weardale and Dartmoor Railway Community Interest Companies and RMS Locotec, formerly parent to Devon & Cornwall Railways, which operated freight services. RMS Locotec’s Washwood Heath base was in the path of HS2 and its assets have been sold off (with DCR now owned by the Cappagh construction company, under whose ownership it has acquired four Class 60s from DB Cargo to operate freight services from Wembley – p20, February issue). Dartmoor Railway, the CIC that operated heritage services between Okehampton and Meldon quarry on track owned by Aggregate Industries, has entered administration.

The Weardale Railway, which stretches 20 miles west from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope, has been bought out of administration by the Auckland Project, a charity supporting economic regeneration around Bishop Auckland by promoting tourism in the region. The Project says it will work with Durham County Council and will continue to call on the expertise provided by the staff of the former Weardale Railway CIC and volunteers of the Weardale Railway Trust, which operated the summer heritage service on the line on behalf of its previous US owner.

The Auckland Project has ambitions to incorporate the Weardale Railway into its plans to celebrate the historic Stockton to Darlington Railway, which in 2025 will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first passenger service.