‘Middy’ gets the green light for extension
Approval for the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway’s extension means that the railway will nearly double in length, and could be completed in two years’ time. Mid Suffolk District Council’s Planning Committee has formally approved plans for the MSLR to extend its current ¼-mile running line 400 yards westwards, as well as build a new terminus, making the ‘Middy’ a ‘somewhere to somewhere’ line for the first time in preservation. The new station will be called either Aspall or Aspall Halt, recalling the next station on the original route from Brockford: Aspall & Thornton. The building will be modelled on the old station at Wilby, with a basic platform, corrugated iron waiting shelter and grounded van body. As per the planning restrictions, there will be no run-round loop at the new terminus, and trains will be operated in push-pull mode, instead of top-and-tailed. The cost of the ‘Middy’s’ extension will be “somewhere north of £100,000”, according to the line’s press officer, John Reeve. “We’ve received a couple of quotes but we’re still hedging our bets in case something unexpected turns up. We’ve obviously got to get into serious fundraising soon, but no one’s terrified of that figure. However, we’re still working out how we’re going to do it. “We’re required by the planning conditions to get under way within three years, but it could be a lot sooner than that as we already have some track in stock. Hopefully, we’ll be running in two years. “We need to tread carefully as this is such an important project for the future of the railway. At the moment we’re a half-day attraction, but we want to offer a full-day attraction and better value for money.” The news comes weeks after Wetheringsett-cumBrockford Parish Council withdrew its backing for the project, citing concerns about the impact upon the nearby Potash Cottage, and possible interference with the footpath. However, at MSDC’s planning meeting, held at the beginning of February, eight of the nine committee members supported the extension and one abstained. It rounds off a successful year for the MSLR, in which a new two-road running shed was erected at Brockford station, and a ‘Santa’ programme was fully booked in December.
LNER ‘Y7’ 0-4-0T No. 985 passes the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway’s new engine shed with a two-coach train to Brockford.