The South Tynedale Railway, a narrow gauge steam railway in Northumberland, has won Heritage Lottery funding of £4.2m to extend its line from Alston back to Haltwhistle on the Newcastle - Carlisle line and run a commuter service. Solar panels installed on the roof of its buildings will generate power which will be sold to the National Grid and then bought back at 'Economy 7' prices overnight to recharge nearly-new battery locomotives acquired from TfL, which had used them for the refurbishment of the East London and Waterloo & City Lines.

The STR is well on the way to raising an additional £1.3m, on which the lottery grant is conditional. It will complete its extension to Slaggyford by 2016 and then to Haltwhistle by 2025. The STR will also restore station buildings and rolling stock. A steam locomotive will be converted to burn local wood-chip briquettes to provide another sustainable motive power solution.

Despite a recent fall in visitor numbers, the railway makes a major contribution to the local economy. This development will rebuild the popularity of the line, develop the local economy, and provide a sustainable public transport solution connecting to the national rail network, meeting the objective of Railfuture's campaign for preserved lines as public transport.

Northern Echo news story

South Tynedale Railway press release