The Weardale Railway Project relies upon the combined effort and expertise of a number of contributors.

                              These partners are:

                              Weardale Railways CIC - the commercial operating company.

                              Weardale Railway Trust - the supporters' charity (and 12½% shareholder of W R CIC)

                              Volunteer Groups - of hands-on workers (who are also Trust members).






The aim of creating a community project that would integrate a regular passenger service with enthusiasts' steam specials and freight facilities is unusually ambitious. Therefore the specialised tasks of negotiating with Network Rail, accessing national and EU grants and eventually running scheduled services was undertaken by Weardale Railways Ltd, a group of people with a huge range of railway expertise and knowledge.

Following cashflow difficulties in 2005, the Company was placed in administration pending the appointment of a new board of directors with the ability to return it to a sound financial footing, and as a community interest company, Weardale Railways CIC.
This was achieved with a partnership comprising:

  • ECT - who already successfully operated the Dartmoor Railway.
    This organisation was underwriting the costs of the Weardale Railway Project.
  • Weardale Railway Trust - members have raised a substantial amount of finance towards the recovery plan. They also provide all voluntary work in the railway's reconstruction and operation.
  • Durham County Council - have a director on the board to ensure that the project reflects their aims for tourism and regeneration.
  • Wear Valley District Council - also have a director on the board to ensure that the project reflects their local aims for tourism and regeneration.

In 2008, ECT needed to relinquish its railway operations. All parts (Weardale, Dartmoor Railway and RMS Locotech) were bought by American Railway company Iowa Pacific using a newly formed company, British American Rail Services (BARS).
Also, the shift to a unitary authority means that WVDC will not exist from April 2009.

Therefore Weardale Railways CIC will go forward with the composition:

  • British American Rail Services 75%

  • Weardale Railway Trust        12.5%

  • Durham County Council          12.5%


The registered office is:
Stanhope Station.
Station Road,
Bishop Auckland,
Co. Durham, DL13 2YS
Date of incorporation:
17th November 1993.
Company registration number:


Stanhope Station.

The company is authorised to operate the following railway asset: 
A 18.7-mile (30km) Network micro-franchise from Bishop Auckland to Eastgate, both in the County of Durham. At Bishop Auckland the line has a head on connection with the Railtrack branch line from Darlington, the boundary being approximately 100 yards west of the western end of the platform at Bishop Auckland.
Weardale Railways CIC is authorised to operate freight and passenger trains, stations, a light maintenance depot and its associated operations on the network between Eastgate and Bishop Auckland and soon, beyond onto the national network.


The major stages in re-opening the Weardale Railway:
Securing our T.W.A.O.
This stage was been particularly protracted and delayed by a variety of problems not of our own making. However, they were solved and we eventually received formal notification of our T.W.A.O. in 2002.

Railtrack agrees to sell the railway.
The company has already been involved in lengthy negotiations with Railtrack who have agreed the sale of the railway subject to our possession of a Transport & Works Act Order (basically a ‘licence’ granted by Parliament confirming our suitability to operate a public railway). The sale was also successfully concluded.

Infrastructure renovation.
This stage is particularly labour intensive and heavily reliant on volunteers. It involves removal of vegetation, track renovation, providing station access, linking the Wolsingham depot to the line, remedial works to bridges and crossings, etc. Limited access was granted by Network Rail for this work to commence ahead of the official handing over of the line, and line clearance and renovation is already well under way - the section between Stanhope and the Wolsingham depot was ready for use by mid-July 2004 when the first services commenced.
The stations at Stanhope, Frosterley and Wolsingham have undergone major works and were ready for use by July 2004. 
The line to Eastgate is now usable, and vegetation clearance and line reconstruction to Bishop Auckland was completed early in 2010. 

Source and acquire "heritage" rolling stock.
Following the revision of our business plan, this process has been given high priority and is progressing well in order to reduce the costs incurred in 2004 when all locos and coaches were hired in.

Start heritage operations. - Opening day was July 17th 2004 with the first season operating daily until October 3rd. This was exclusively a steam hauled service between Stanhope and Wolsingham. After the financial difficulties had been addressed the line reopened on August 16th 2006 using diesel traction. Heritage services, both diesel and steam hauled,  now operate regularly throughout the year.

Start community operations. The changes in RPP funding cast uncertainty on the likely starting date for the community service, but it remained a central feature of our proposed operations and a daily service between Stanhope and Bishop Auckland started in May 2010. This service ran until December 2011 before being withdrawn due to lack of support.





The Trust came into being as a way of providing legal protection for the members of the original Weardale Railway Society. The two parallel organisations subsequently merged to produce the Weardale Railway Trust Ltd, company registration number 3226401. The A.G.M. of the Trust takes place each November where a proportion of the officers are elected on a 2-year cycle. This group meets every month to conduct the Trust's business, with sub-groups meeting more frequently. The minutes of the monthly meetings are open for public viewing and can be downloaded HERE

Charitable status has been granted (Reg. No. 1088897) enabling us to maximize our income and effectiveness.

The object of the Trust is to:
"Support Weardale Railways Ltd to purchase or by any other means acquire the railway land, track and infrastructure currently existing between signal S36 at Cockton Hill Bridge, Bishop Auckland and Eastgate, proposed extensions thereof and the operation of trains."

Volunteers - Working volunteers are always in demand whether helping operations as driver, guard, crossing keeper, etc, station duties in the shop, cafe, ticket office, or behind the scenes maintaining and refurbishing rolling stock and track. All volunteers need the protection of training and the Trust's insurance, therefore it is in everyone's interest that:
All working volunteers must become members of the Trust in order to benefit from the Trust's insurance scheme.
Upon receipt of the completed application form and payment new members are invited to submit their skills and time available to the Volunteer Coordinator who will put them in touch with the relevant team leader.

You can download a volunteer recruitment pack and application form here.

Members of the Trust receive a quarterly magazine "Between the Lines" to keep them informed of progress in the many areas of work needed to bring a railway back into operation. The magazine also carries a variety of articles relating to the history of the railway and its surroundings. Many of the Trust's members give their support solely by their subscription fees - not everyone is fortunate enough to have good health, spare time and live close enough to Weardale to be regularly involved in the work of the project. For those who are willing and able to help on a regular basis, there is almost certainly a job within your capability!
If you want to support the project, the membership classes are:
Full - the appropriate class of membership for one person.
Concessionary - has a reduced membership fee for the benefit of those on modest incomes such as students, unemployed & retired members.  The fee is kept to the minimum necessary to just cover the administrative and postal costs involved.
- for supporters under the age of 16 who join independently of their parents.
- A one-off payment for continuous membership for the lifetime of the member. There are two rates depending on whether the member is under or over the age of 60.
- The class for an additional person (spouse, child, etc.) at the same address as a Full or Concessionary member.
Note: Each Joint member receives their individual membership card allowing them to contribute to voluntary activities, but they do not receive separate magazine mailings.
Corporate - a membership class appropriate for businesses wishing to show their support. 



If you want to be part of our future, please print an application form and return it to Stanhope Station.

Click for application form

If you are part of a local organisation, and would like to have a talk, slide show or presentation.


If you feel you may like to help the work of the Trust with a legacy in your will there is some useful information here.


Stanhope Station

The Trust's administrative centre is situated in Stanhope Station. 
A telephone answering service operates when the office is unmanned.




All heritage railways are heavily dependent on volunteer workers to run services, maintain and refurbish locos and rolling stock, maintain and extend the infrastructure, sell tickets, man the shop and do all the other jobs that result in a first class attraction.
The Loco Group (the Weardale Railway Locomotive Preservation Group) was the first of these groups of volunteers. They have now spent many years acquiring historic items of stock to renovate and use on the Weardale Railway. This was the the volunteer force that first secured and developed the Wolsingham site that has now become our depot. They also completed most of the early track clearance and laid the first of our sidings. Now that we are up and running, they can concentrate on the task of refurbishing heritage locos and rolling stock to see them in use once again. To find out more go to their own website
The W R Locomotive & Carriage Trust may be more in your line if you do not have the time or enthusiasm for "hands-on" refurbishment work, but wish to help by raising funds. This group was formed with the intention of contributing towards the purchase of rolling stock (particularly coaches and steam locos) for use in Weardale. All donations are gratefully accepted, but to become a voting member of the group a minimum annual donation of £100 is required. Further details from Dr. Michael Wood
The North Eastern Heritage Diesel Group is a group of enthusiasts wishing to acquire and base diesel motive power in Weardale. If this is your thing, you can visit their own web page to find out more by clicking
Other groups will continue to be added as needs are identified. For example, we need station groups to keep everything tidy, do a bit of planting and gardening, etc. and as we grow there will come a need for signalling.
If you have a particular interest that is not already catered for, contact the Trust office for information and advice.


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