Churnet Valley Railway closed for a month for repairs after flooding

(Photo Copyright Dave Gibson)

Flooding has left some of the newly opened Churnet Valley Railway track suspended in mid air.

The line will remain closed until Saturday 30th November for repairs, after it was left under water following this weekend’s torrential rain.

The railway’s planned Super Power Saturday event was cancelled following a breach of the Caldon Canal close to bridge number 39 south of Consall station.

It was the first of several fundraisers to support raising the £1m needed to complete the new line to ‘Reconnect Leek' project.

But the team behind the railway say they will be ready in time to save their annual Santa event.

The rain gauge at Thorncliffe, approximately eight miles from Consall, reported 61.4mm of rain had fallen in 30 hours. The average monthly rainfall for Staffordshire is 82mm.

The Permanent Way Institute (PWI), who recently assisted with laying the first 201m of the track attended on Saturday to help assess the extent of the damage, but it was unclear due to the high-water levels.

Yesterday (28 October), Churnet Valley Railway officials met with all interested parties to discuss how best to tackle the problems caused by the breach of the canal south of Consall Station, which left some of the line suspended in mid-air.

The Operations Director Gregory Wilson updated that the mitigation put in by the heritage railway following a similar incident back in 2000, has helped reduce the damage on this occasion and avoided more extensive loss of track.

It is hoped the proposed repairs will not only reinstate the railway but will also strengthen and improve the drainage.

The railway, supported by its charity The North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd and heavily reliant on the time of its 100+ volunteers is seeking assistance by way of financial support to cover the cost of the repairs, which are yet to be confirmed. 

Anyone wishing to make donations can do so here: https://www.churnetvalleyrailway.co.uk/donations

(Photo Copyright Dave Gibson)

Similar incidents at other heritage railways has resulted in an amendment to insurance cover across the movement, resulting in the removal of financial protection for such ‘wet perils.’ Repairs are due to be underway in the next week and it is estimated the work will be completed in approximately seven days.

The railway will reopen for service on Friday 30th November, the start of the annual Santa and Steam event.

Gregory Wilson said: “Our priority primarily was with people’s safety and assessing what damage has been caused. Early assessment indicates repairs will take approximately a week.

"This of course, is great news following what’s happened as we can confirm there will be no disruption to our Santa and Steam event.”

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