Middy rail line to be doubled in length this winter

Aspall Halt - before tracks

The site of the proposed new station at Aspall Halt. Tracks should return here during the winter. - Credit: Paul Geater

Work to double the length of Suffolk's only standard-gauge steam railway should continue in the winter - and could be open to public trains by this time next year.

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway should have its extension from Dovebrook to a new station, Aspall Halt, laid in the winter after signing a new agreement with rail infrastructure company TES2000.

Colchester-based TES2000 is a contractor which works extensively with Network Rail across the region. Laying the new track near Wetheringsett will give it the opportunity of training staff on how to operate rail equipment.

John Reeve from the Middy said everyone should benefit from the work: "With our small team it would take far too long to lay 400 sleepers and the track - each sleeper needs six bolts so you can imagine how long that would take a small team of volunteers!"

Extension start

In 2018 Rob Patten from TES2000 cut the first sod watched by Middy President Tony Alston, and John Reeve. - Credit: Lawrie Rose/Mid Suffolk Light Railway

TES2000 laid the ballast for the new track at the end of 2018 and had been due to lay the track in 2020 - but the Covid pandemic intervened.

Mr Reeve did not know how long the work would take: "They're starting early in the new year and it could be only three weeks or so - but we don't know what the weather will be like then and this kind of work is very weather-dependent."

Middy end

The Middy will be continuing from here for another 600 yards to Aspall Halt. - Credit: Paul Geater

Laying the track is only part of the work the Middy needs to complete. It will have to build the new station which should be a recreation of a small Middy halt from the years before it closed in 1952.

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And the railway also needs to apply for Transport and Works Act order (TWA) because the new section of track crosses a public footpath - that has to be obtained from the government and can take some time to work through.

When complete the extension will create a line about 1km (1,200 yards) long with a station at both ends.

Aspall Halt

Looking back from Aspall towards the existing end of the line. - Credit: Paul Geater

Mr Reeve said: "We'd like to have it fully open by this time next year but we'll have to see how things go. It is great that TES2000 will be coming back. They did a very good job preparing the ballast before the pandemic threw us rather."