WE’VE enjoyed a great autumn with a really varied range of events, from the wizardry at Halloween, or travelling back in style to the 1920s in a Gatsby-themed murder mystery evening, through to the annual Beer and Music Festival.

We now turn our attention to the visit from the big man himself as we near December and that magical time of year when the Santa Specials run. It’s always great to see the excited children receiving their gift from Father Christmas and the grown-ups enjoying the banter with Scrooge and with Santa’s Pixies.

It’s only a few weeks until the first weekend of Santa Specials and tickets for many services are now almost sold out, so please do visit the website to check availability to avoid any disappointment. As well as preparing for the festive activities in December, running and maintaining the railway means we also need to plan much further ahead.

One project that has been several years in the making is nearing completion, as we intend to replace one of the bridges near Ingrow in March 2020. Designing the bespoke replacement elements for the bridge, undertaking all the necessary risk management and safety assessments, and planning the work itself, have all been a labour of love for our Civil Maintenance volunteers.

These are the volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes maintaining the 150-plus year old infrastructure that allows us to keep the trains running. The team have also just finished a project to deal with a long-standing (and I mean 100-plus years!) groundworks challenge around Mytholmes Tunnel, which will help secure the operation of the railway for many years to come.

We have other challenges on the horizon, including the threat to the supply of coal at an affordable price as a consequence of proposed legislation relating to the domestic use of coal.

While there’s no suggestion that we will be banned from using coal, the commercial reality of the 100-plus heritage railways being the main customers for coal is likely to increase significantly the price, despite the environmental impact of coal used by steam railways being very modest compared to other areas that could more readily be curtailed.

Our railway, along with the many others across the country, add significantly to the tourist and local economies, and play a vital part in keeping such an important part of history alive, so we are lobbying hard to protect the railway’s future.

With so much going on we always need more volunteers, both on the operational ‘frontline’ as well as for the many and varied behind-the-scenes activities that are required to keep the wheels turning. Please do visit the website or get in touch if would like to join our 700-plus volunteers.