Heritage railway fully re-opened after closure

  • Published
Steam train on West Somerset Railway
Image caption,
The railway has re-opened after being closed since January

A heritage railway has fully re-opened after closing for three months following a critical inspection by the rail watchdog.

West Somerset Railway decided to close in January after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) recommended improvements to governance and infrastructure.

The steam railway is a branch line of the old Great Western Railway and runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.

A trial scheme, linking the railway to the mainline, has also been announced.

The railway's general manager, Paul Conibeare, said the re-opening had been "a remarkable turnaround".

Trains are now running as far as Minehead. The route between Watchet and Bishops Lydeard was opened last month.

Image caption,
About 1,000 passengers travelled on the railway on Saturday

Mr Conibeare said: "We've done a lot of work, seven days a week since Christmas, to get the infrastructure of the track right to run safely."

He added that work, including the installation of about 50 new rails, had been carried out to "get the infrastructure of the track right to run safely".

Staff and volunteers have also received extra training in order to satisfy demands by the ORR.

About 1,000 passengers travelled on the newly re-opened railway on Saturday.

A plan has also been announced to trial weekend shuttle services between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard.

Great Western Railway (GWR) has awarded funding to the scheme, which will connect the heritage line with the mainline, and could lead to regular train services on the route.

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