Extension Update from Leighton Buzzard Railway

Track laying commences today. Photo courtesy LBR.

After a period of uncertainty, mainly due to struggling to obtain an earthworks contractor. Leighton Buzzard Railway’s extension works are now taking place. The extension adds a further ½ mile of passenger railway with a planned opening date of mid-2020 and will provide around 400 metres of double track, rare on 2ft gauge lines.

With the autumn steam gala rapidly approaching (good job it wasn’t in its previous September spot) there was an urgent need to get the main line connected to Stonehenge Works Yards. The former layout being removed to allow earthworks to take place. This required the contractor to complete all his work on the first 100 metres of track bed with the exception of laying ballast before we could start.

Laying in the crossover, trap points and associated plain line, plus one temporary and one permanent point lever plus dropping around 50 tonnes of ballast and some packing work was completed by the end of Monday 16 September and the layout made available for trains to operate over it.

Tracklaying to Munday’s Hill will start today, 30th September and take around two weeks. For the first week we have the help of some of Crossrail’s Track Maintenance team apprentices together with suitably trained members. We expect to get a large amount of the track laid that week. The second week should allow all the track and points to be in position although a vast amount other work is needed before we even think of passenger train operation.

Spring should see the line ready for testing and training and our target is to have the work completed in mid-2020 with regular passenger operation from 2021. If that seems a long way away remember that it’s a small team of 6-7 volunteers is carrying out much of the work, strengthened by the bigger Monday Track Gang when not needed to keep the existing line in good repair.

The railway is still around £30,000 short of the funding target, down from £45,000 after some very generous donations.

Anyone wishing to donate to the extension may do so by cash, card or cheque in person to the railway’s booking office on operating days, or by sending a cheque payable to the ‘Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Society' to Page’s Park Station, Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 4TG.

Don’t forget, if you are a UK taxpayer, you can increase the value of your donation at no cost to yourself by completing the gift aid form on the railway’s website, which allows us to reclaim tax from the Government.