The preservation society running the Leighton Buzzard Railway are entering their 50th year, and to mark this anniversary plan to extend their railway back towards the end of the main line at Double Arches.
Like many narrow gauge railways, the Leighton Buzzard Railway served a number of quarries along its route. While as an industrial line there was never a station to define the terminus, the end of the main running line has nevertheless always been recognized as being at the point where the line crossed Eastern Way and entered the main quarry itself at a location known locally as Double Arches. Continuing sand extraction at the quarries there means that Double Arches is not yet accessible, but the opportunity now exists to extend the line beyond Stonehenge by nearly three-quarters of a mile, past Mundays Hill, within striking distance of that eventual goal.
The Leighton Buzzard Railway has announced the launching of an appeal for £150,000 to meet the projected costs of this extension and associated works at Stonehenge. As part of this project, work is well advanced to secure an element of grant support, but as success cannot be guaranteed and in any event will require an element of matched funding from their own resources, the railway needs to start raising funds now.
As well as driving the railway back towards its original ‘terminus’, this extension in open countryside will offset the effect of the new housing developments proposed elsewhere along the line. The new line will also feature a section of line with a gradient of 1:27 providing new opportunities to enjoy the sight and sound of locomotives working hard, and also a section of unique British narrow gauge double track.
Track components have been sourced and need to be secured by October this year at the latest. A first target of £40,000 by the end of September has been set to enable this and preparatory works to start.
The Leighton Buzzard Railway is driving forward into its second half-century with new energy against a background of growing passenger numbers and interest in the line. A return to Double Arches has been long dreamed of by many members and this new project will take the Railway most of the way there, ready for the day when that final step will be possible.
Donations can be made on line at www.buzzrail.co.uk.
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