‘Middy’ gets the green light for ex­ten­sion

Steam Railway (UK) - - Steam News -

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.

LAWRIE ROSE

LNER ‘Y7’ 0-4-0T No. 985 passes the Mid-Suf­folk Light Rail­way’s new en­gine shed with a two-coach train to Brock­ford.

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