INFORMATION FOR THE VISITOR
The Weardale Railway runs alongside the River Wear through part of the attractive and remote Weardale. The line has historic connections, being closely linked to that of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (which promoted and later owned the line) which opened in 1825 from the Shildon area, just 4 miles from Bishop Auckland station from where the Weardale Railway commenced. The line was built primarily for freight purposes, although passenger services were run until ended in 1953. Freight operations ran as far as Eastgate until 1993, giving preservationists an opportunity to save the line.
After various preservation attempts, in 2020 the line was bought by The Auckland Project (a regeneration charity) with the intent of re-opening the line as a heritage railway providing services between Stanhope and Bishop Auckland. Up to April 2023 the only section open was between Stanhope and Wolsingham, however from 22 April 2023 the entire section from Stanhope, via Wolsingham to Bishop Auckland should be open. Services however are only running this season to Bishop Auckland West station during certain August and early September running days.
The support group is the 'Weardale Railway Trust' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).
Happening This Month:
Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'
Key Facts (where and when)
Extent of Railway (where to where):
Stanhope to Bishop Auckland West
Principal Visitor Centre:
Stanhope Station (DL13 2YS)
Period of Operation*
- March to May (Selected days)
- June/ Sept/ Oct (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
- July (Weekends and Wednesdays)
- August (Weekends, Wednesdays and Thursdays)
- Late Nov/ December (Special event Trains)
[* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days]
Key Facts (what you’ll see)
Services usually steam or diesel?
Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:
Pacers, Heritage diesel multiple unit, and occasional diesel locomotive
Length of Line:
Operational 15 miles (18 miles owned in total)
Time taken for a round trip:
1 hour (Stanhope and Wolsingham). Two hours Stanhope to Bishop Auckland West
Number of trains per day:
3 in each direction
Number of Stations:
Fares between Stanhope and Wolsingham: Adult: £10. Concession: £8. Child: £6. Family: £26
Fares to and from Bishop Auckland West: Adult: £16. Concession: £14. Child: £8. Family: £41
Time to allow for Visit:
1 to 2 hours
Car Park Facilities:
Car parking at Stanhope and Wolsingham, and close to Bishop Auckland West
Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)
- No (café at Stanhope station)
- Christmas Trains: December
- None currently advertised
Telephone: 07719 757755
Social Media: www.facebook.com/WeardaleRailwayHeritageServices
Also on Twitter
INFORMATION FOR THE ENTHUSIAST
Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation
The history of the Weardale Railway is closely linked to that of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. That railway could perhaps be better described as the Shildon, Darlington and Stockton Railway, as it linked coal mines in the Shildon area (4 miles from Bishop Auckland) to quays at Stockton. That railway famously opened in 1825. The Stockton and Darlington Railway quickly expanded both eastwards and west. It backed a nominally independent company to build an extension from Shildon to Bishop Auckland which opened in 1842. An extension to Witton and Frosterley was opened by 1847, and then to Stanhope in 1862 aiming to reach known limestone deposits. The line was finally extended to Wearhead in 1895. The Wearhead branch closed to passenger trains in 1953 however it remained open as a freight-only line from Bishop Auckland to Eastgate (between Stanhope and Wearhead) until 1993. The railway was then bought by a succession of entities intending to re-introduce a combination of freight and heritage services, which ultimately failed. In 2020 the line was bought by The Auckland Project (a regeneration charity aiming to drive investment in the Bishop Auckland area) with the intent of re-opening the line for heritage services between Bishop Auckland and Stanhope.
To re-introduce and then enhance services to Bishop Auckland
Steam Operational Locomotives:
- None at present
Diesel Operational Locomotives/DMU:
(1) BR Class 31 - 31285
(2) BR Class 31 - 31459
(3) BR Class 31 - 31465
(4) Heritage DMU Class 108 - Nos. 50980 and 52054
(5) Heritage DMU Class 122 Bubblecar - No. E55012
(6) Pacer DMU Class 144 - No. 144010
Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:
- Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns 0-6-0T – ‘NCB. 40’
INFORMATION ON THE SUPPORT GROUP
Name of Support Group:
Weardale Railway Trust
Annual membership fee:
Adult: £18. Concession: £14. Junior: £10. Family: £40. Life: £350
Benefits of membership:
- 50% discounted travel on the heritage service trains
- Access to volunteering opportunities
- Quarterly Magazine, 'Between the Lines'
How to Join: Go to www.weardale-railway.org.uk/membership
What They Say About Volunteering:
The Weardale Railway is mainly run by volunteers whose contribution is essential to the running of the railway and its long-term future. You can be part of this by becoming a working member in one of our many departments. Generally, you do not need specific experience as training will be provided in your chosen area. Some operational roles, such as driving require a significant time commitment, training and assessment, however others do not and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved.
How to Volunteer: Go to www.weardale-railway.org.uk/volunteering
How to Donate: Email the railway for information on making donations.
WHY JOIN: Help the railway reintroduce services between Wolsingham and Bishop Auckland.
INFORMATION ON OTHER SOCIETIES WITH RELATED INTEREST
Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this
Traditional Railway Societies:
- Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway
- North Eastern Railway Society
- Industrial Railway Society
- RCTS (North East branch, Darlington)
Model Railway Clubs:
- Making Tracks Railway Society (Durham)