SPRING has sprung a whole lot earlier than it did last year when we were battling through the snow to run the railway.

What a difference twelve months makes, and in fact what a difference just seven days can make.

At 8.15am on February 9, “Bahamas”, a Jubilee-class steam locomotive, began a journey from Oxenhope to Carlisle hauling its first passenger train on the mainline for 25 years after a very extensive overhaul.

The locomotive performed magnificently, but the weather less so. We left Oxenhope in atrocious conditions, with the freezing rain and high winds resulting in a tree blocking the Airedale line near Steeton station.

Our volunteers helped Network Rail to the clear the obstruction, and we were able to make up the lost time to arrive in Carlisle only a handful of minutes behind schedule.

A week later we re-ran the service, both full to capacity with passengers excited to see the locomotive return to traffic, under a beautiful blue sky that could not been a greater contrast to seven days earlier.

As well as the weather being very different to a year ago, there’s plenty of other changes, with a whole range of new and extended events running in 2019.

You will be able to enjoy ‘Sparkle & Steam’ Prosecco-tasting trains, and for the first time the ‘Scotch Flyer’ whisky tasting services, led by experts in the comfort of our plush historic carriages.

The first of the ‘Scotch Flyers’ runs on March 23 and for the ‘Sparkle & Steam’ the next run is on March 30 and 31, then then various dates through the year.

This year sees the return of the popular heritage diesel gala, running as a ‘Diesel and Mixed Traffic’ from Friday to Sunday, May 3-6, with visiting diesel locomotives joining our home fleet or steam and diesel traction. This will see a weekend of very varied services.

Alongside the very full programme of events, we continue to run every weekend and seven days per week during the Easter break and then every day from May 27 right through to September 8.

We also start our Wednesday service in March, when we run a diesel railcar that gives a very different perspective on the line.

Whilst we have well over 600 active volunteers, we really do need more of you to join the team to help us put on the events, operate the trains and to run the stations that our passengers enjoy.

There are hours and hours of work that go on behind the scenes on both the charity administration and engineering aspects of running the railway.

If you have even only a little time to offer, and especially if you have relevant experience, we would very pleased to hear from you and would welcome you to the team that – quite literally – helps keep the wheels turning.