Full steam ahead for Leighton Buzzard Railway’s extension as tracklaying begins

Track laying for the Leighton Buzzard Railway extension commences today
Track laying for the Leighton Buzzard Railway extension commences today

Leighton Buzzard Railway’s extension works are now taking place, after months of uncertainty.

The extension adds a further half mile of passenger railway with a planned opening date of the middle of 2020, the extension will provide around 400 metres of double track.

The delay on the extension was mainly due to the team struggling to obtain an earthworks contractor.

A spokesman for Leighton Buzzard Railway said: “With the autumn steam gala rapidly approaching there was an urgent need to get the main line connected to Stonehenge Works Yards. The former layout being removed to allow earthworks to take place. This required the contractor to complete all his work on the first 100 metres of track bed with the exception of laying ballast before we could start.

“Laying in the crossover, trap points and associated plain line, plus one temporary and one permanent point lever plus dropping around 50 tonnes of ballast and some packing work was completed by the end of Monday 16 September and the layout made available for trains to operate over it.”

Tracklaying to Munday’s Hill started today (Monday, September 30), and will take around two weeks.

The spokesperson added: “For the first week we have the help of some of Crossrail’s Track Maintenance team apprentices together with suitably trained members. We expect to get a large amount of the track laid that week.

“The second week should allow all the track and points to be in position although a vast amount other work is needed before we even think of passenger train operation.

“Spring should see the line ready for testing and training and our target is to have the work completed in mid-2020 with regular passenger operation from 2021.

“If that seems a long way away remember that it’s a small team of 6-7 volunteers is carrying out much of the work, strengthened by the bigger

Monday Track Gang when not needed to keep the existing line in good repair.”

The railway is still around £30,000 short of the funding target, down from £45,000 after some donations. Anyone wishing to donate to the extension may do so by cash, card or cheque in person to the railway’s booking office on operating days.