Leighton Buzzard Railway is steaming ahead with plans to make its dream of extending services towards Double Arches Quarry a reality.
Currently the narrow gauge line runs for around three miles between Page’s Park and Stonehenge Works.
Beyond here, the line continued to Double Arches, where the sand processing plant is still fed by nearby quarries, but all transport is now by road.
Some of the rail track still remains, and is used as storage sidings. Restoration of the remainder, and the extension of passenger services to Double Arches, is the subject of a £150,000 appeal, launched today.
Media Officer Steve Doughty said: “Like many narrow gauge railways, the Leighton Buzzard Railway served a number of quarries along its route.
“While as an industrial line there was never a station to define the terminus, the end of the main running line has nevertheless always been recognised as being at the point where the line crossed Eastern Way and entered the main quarry, itself at a location known locally as Double Arches.
“Continuing sand extraction at the quarries there means that Double Arches is not yet accessible, but the opportunity now exists to extend the line beyond Stonehenge by nearly three-quarters of a mile, past Mundays Hill, within striking distance of thateventual goal.”
Steve added: “We are therefore pleased to announce the launching of an appeal for £150,000 to meet the projected costs of this extension and associated works at Stonehenge.
“As part of this project, work is well advanced to secure an element of grant support, but as success cannot be guaranteed and in any event will require an element of matched funding from our own resources, we need to start raising money now.
“As well as driving the railway back towards its original ‘terminus’, this extension in open countryside will offset the effect of the new housing developments proposed elsewhere along the line.
“The new line will also feature a section of line with a gradient of 1:27 providing new opportunities to enjoy the sight and sound of locomotives working hard, and also a section of unique British narrow gauge double track.”
The railway says track components have been sourced and need to be secured by October this year at the latest. It is aiming to hit its first target of £40,000 by the end of September to enable this and preparatory works to start.
Steve added: “The Leighton Buzzard Railway is driving forward into its second half-century with new energy against a background of growing passenger numbers and interest in the line.
“A return to Double Arches has been long dreamed of by many members and this new project will take the railway most of the way there, ready for the day when that final step will be possible.”
Donations can be made on line at www.buzzrail.co.uk or by cheque payable to the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Society to Pages Park Station, Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 4TN.