If you were planning on going to the Churnet Valley Railway (CVR) Diesel Gala that was originally scheduled for this weekend (9th & 10th Nov.), the only diesel you will find is a DMU on the regular service! Of course this is fine if it’s what you were expecting but the main diesel gala has been postponed to the end of November to coincide with the Moorland & City Railway’s Cauldon Lowe branch line Gala Re-opening.
Moorland & City Railways (MCR) was specifically setup to purchase, renovate, and return commercial rail freight to the Stoke on Trent – Cauldon Lowe rail route. The branch was closed to passenger traffic in 1935 and freight in 1992, a final charter ran on the 28th May 1994. Since then it has remained mothballed.
Through its close association with the Churnet Valley Railway it was clear that a limited amount of heritage services would be able to operate over the MCR network in the fullness of time. It was however not anticipated to see heritage services until the entire route to Stoke was opened.
On the 10th May the CVR was reconnected with Leekbrook Junction and the lines to Stoke and Cauldon Lowe. Reconnection to the junction was the first step towards allowing works trains onto the Cauldon Low line to be operated by Moorland and City Railways.
When clearance work commenced on the Leekbrook Junction – Cauldon Lowe section in May 2010 it was apparent that the route was in better than anticipated condition, thus with a moderate amount of work it has been possible to open up to a limited heritage service as early as November 2010 subject to inspections by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR)
With the ongoing inspections by the ORR, and continued work by MCR contractors the line is currently on course for the launch date of 13th November 2010. An intensive 3 train service is planned for 13th, 14th, 19th & 24th November featuring some interesting steam motive power including unique BR standard class 8P 4-6-2 No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester. The weekend of the 20th & 21st November will see a repeat of this with a mix of steam and diesel locomotives to recreate a 1960’s theme. The Diesel Gala will now take place on 26th to 28th November.
This new section of line will see the CVR expand operations from an 11 mile round trip to a 27 mile round trip.
Refer to the CVR and MCR websites (see links below) for more information.