Cancelled steam train service in Cumbria back on track

Steam train at Ravenglass. Photo: Brian Sherwen, courtesy of Go Lakes
Image caption The steam trains ran between Ravenglass and Carnforth

A steam train service which was cancelled along the West Cumbrian coast last year could be back on track.

The rail excursions, which ran between Carnforth and Ravenglass, were stopped in August 2011 because they could no longer turn around at Sellafield.

Sellafield Ltd restricted access to the turning triangle at the site because of "security improvements".

Plans are now being drawn up to try to create new turning facilities for the engines at the Port of Workington.

The trains carried about 400 passengers along the Cumbrian coast.

Brian Hough, from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which runs Sellafield, said: "I think we all understand the kind of benefit that those excursions bring to West Cumbria, however there's always a programme of continuous improvement as regards to security at Sellafield.

"Because of that there has been the need to restrict access to the site for a range of individuals and a range of users and unfortunately the steam train excursions have been caught up in that programme."

'Significant' loss

The authority says it is "keen" to help find a solution for the steam trains, which they believe could be at the Port of Workington.

The port has existing railway infrastructure which they hope could be used to create a new turning table.

However, they say there are a "range of issues to overcome" and they need to make sure it does not damage or complicate the port's existing business.

Jim Walker, chief executive of Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, said: "This is really important to us here and it's not just about us, it's important for the whole tourism economy of the western Lake District area.

"We were very disappointed when this happened, with not a lot of notice to be honest, and we did lose significant business.

"Two trains were cancelled last year which has a big impact on a small company like the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway so we have been working with our colleagues in Sellafield... but it is really urgent and really important."

The authority says it is still in the very early stages of the study and it is "unlikely" to be ready this season.

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