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Middy extension work to start – giving a longer run to Suffolk steam line

PUBLISHED: 10:48 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 21 August 2018

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The route of the Middy extension. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

Work to double the length of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Wetheringsett to about 1km is due to start officially at the weekend.

The current end of the line for the Middy -Dovebrook Halt. Picture: PAUL GEATERThe current end of the line for the Middy -Dovebrook Halt. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The track is currently about a quarter of a mile long running from the railway’s headquarters at Wetheringsett and Brockford to Dovebrook Halt – but the museum has been given permission to extend its run to Aspall Halt where a small new platform will be built giving visitors a longer run.

Volunteers have already started to clear some of the vegetation that has grown up on the route since the line closed in 1952 – but relaying the track should be a relatively straight forward operation. A formal sod-cutting ceremony is due to take place on Sunday.

The Middy, as the line has always been known, has brought in rail company Colas to help build the extension – and has bought redundant track taken up from disused freight sidings in Ipswich to build the new section of track.

John Reeve from the Middy said the line had drawn up a three-year-programme to complete the extension, but members were hopeful that if things went well it could be completed earlier than that.

Volunteers have started to clear the route of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway's extension. Picture: MID SUFFOLK LIGHT RAILWAYVolunteers have started to clear the route of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway's extension. Picture: MID SUFFOLK LIGHT RAILWAY

He said: “We think we may be able to get it done faster if things all go according to plan – but we will have to see how it goes.

It will be good to go ‘from somewhere to somewhere’ and it will be really encouraging to see work starting.”

Light railways do not need the same level of engineering with ballast, cuttings and embankments – but were always restricted to a speed limit of 25mph even in their heyday.

As well as the sod cutting ceremony, the weekend will also see two steam locomotives in action – including the rare Cockerill Tram engine with a vertical boiler.

The Middy’s own locomotive which is currently being restored with a lottery grant will also be on show and will be pushed up and down the track – albeit without its boiler which is currently under restoration.

And on Bank Holiday Monday a memorial will be unveiled to those members of staff from the Middy who lost their lives during the Great War of 1914-18 during a ceremony at 11.15am. Eventually it will also list the names of volunteers who have died since the railway was revived in 1991.

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