►► The land slip at Akebar which has hit the Wensleydale Railway ◀◀

The Wensleydale Railway has launched a public appeal for funds following a major land slip which halted trains and threatens the future of the railway.

Railway engineers have devised a plan to repair the slip at Akebar, but the operation is expected to cost around £100,000.

“This has the potential to disrupt the whole 2014 season,” said general manager Nigel Park. “It could be disastrous.”

The 20-mile railway was expected to play a key role in transporting people to Leyburn when the Tour de France comes to Yorkshire in July.

In addition, if the railway is not be available for military rail freight traffic to Catterick Camp via Redmire, there will be increased lorry traffic on the narrow roads in the area. Large numbers of armoured vehicles are expected to be returning to Yorkshire as the Army’s engagement in Afghanistan comes to an end.

Passenger services restarted in Wensleydale in 2003 with stations at Leeming Bar and Leyburn reopened. In 2004 Bedale, Finghall and Redmire also reopened.

In 2014 it is hoped to open a station at Scruton and a temporary station at Northallerton West.

The railway is growing each year and bringing more tourist business into the area, with almost 45,000 passengers travelling in 2013.

The railway reports that following the land slip, discussions with Network Rail were “not productive” so it is getting on with the job of repairing the line.

The Harry Needle Railroad Company has come to Wensleydale’s aid by suppling wagons and locomotives.

But public donations towards the repair are also needed. You can donate by visiting the website at www.wensleydalerailway.com  using the ‘Akebar Appeal’ button.

Or you can send a cheque payable to the Wensleydale Railway Trust to Leeming Bar Station, Leases Road, Leeming Bar DL7 9AR. Gift Aid can be claimed on your donation if you confirm you are a taxpayer.

Information from the Wensleydale Railway.