IT’S CLOSING-IN on the season of ‘reviews of the year’, so let me be one of the first. We are nearing the end of our 51st year of operation of the ‘Railway in Preservation’, which is quite some milestone as we are in our second half-century of operation.

We are proudly running trains hauled by steam locomotives that have operated longer in preservation than they did under British Railways, and similarly the coaching stock is becoming similarly treated to a new lease of life with us that far exceeds its original operational existence.

The railway was opened over 150 years ago, so we have a little way to go before we can claim to have run it longer in preservation than its previous operators, but it certainly means that we have a very elderly infrastructure in our care, which results in us having to plan for expensive and challenging replacements and repairs.

One such has been work to stabilise land near Mytholmes Tunnel, and the prospect of residential development in the area concerns us greatly. We have spent over £125,000 and hundreds of hours of volunteer effort in the vicinity to deal with a complex and challenging embankment structure and completed the work this year.

Next year we turn our attention to the first of our planned bridge replacements, which will see the focus being on an area just outside Ingrow tunnel as we undertake one of our largest infrastructure projecte. The work is expensive, so please do consider donating to the Railways’ Bridge Appeal to help us manage the financial impact of the work alongside increasingly expensive overhaul costs for our locomotive fleet.

Aside from the operational success during the year, we have enjoyed a whole range of special events, with little characters welcoming a whole new audience to the railway. We continue this on February 19 and 20 when the railway will be invaded by dinosaurs. We will run Jurassic Specials and you can pre-book a Ranger Experience.

We welcomed the prototype High Speed Train unit to the line during our Mixed Traffic Gala, and in so doing became the final railway on which the very special train operated, before it was withdrawn from traffic. We have also enjoyed running steam-hauled trains every week, as well as during the holidays, and the Wednesday diesel service at other times of the year has proved popular.

We have a whole programme of special events for 2020, including another run from Oxenhope to Carlisle behind “Bahamas” in February, and many events and experiences that would make great Christmas gifts, so please do visit the website for details.

I hope you will consider joining us on board as we operate the Mince Pie specials from Boxing to New Year’s Day, and my sincerest thanks for all your continued support for the railway during 2019.