The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) has received a national award for the successful completion of a £750,000 railway engineering project that helped safeguard the future of the line.
The Heritage Railway Association, which represents over 100 preserved railway lines across the UK, has awarded the railway which runs between Whitby and Pickering with its Large Groups Annual Award 2010 for its restoration of Bridge 30 between Grosmont and Goathland.
The award was presented at a ceremony held in Swindon earlier this month.
In presenting the award, the Heritage Railway Association said that never before had such a project been undertaken by a preserved line and the fact the renewal had been done on time and to budget in a hostile environment, made ever more challenging by the winter of 2009/10, was remarkable.
The Bridge 30 project captured the hearts of a worldwide audience and rallied the many thousands of supporters and members of the persevered line.
Without the new bridge, the NYMR say the future of the railway would have been very bleak.
Phil Bustard, marketing manager at the railway said: “Had the bridge not been replaced, the railway would have had to restrict the size and scale of trains running over it.
“Not only would this have been unviable, but before long the trains would have had to stop altogether.”
The project involved removing a 145-year-old structure and replacing it with a new bridge.
Many of the materials were transported by rail and it took the use of a specialist crane to lift the new bridge into place, as it has an 80ft span and crosses over Eller Beck near Darnholme.
In addition to the engineering challenges, the railway worked very closely with the local community before, during and after construction.
It also launched a fund-raising campaign to raise the cash for the bridge, which was successful thanks in part to a £300,000 grant from North Yorkshire County Council and a £90,000 grant of European monies from the LEADER programme.
The project was overseen by Nigel Trotter, who has been NYMR’s civil engineer since the line was taken over from British Railways in 1968, but also involved many other people. These included bridge engineers, specialist contractors, other rail industry partners, and NYMR’s own staff and volunteers.
Paying tribute to their efforts, Neal Clarke, chairman of North Yorkshire Moors Railway Enterprises said: “This was a fantastic achievement by any standards with hundreds of people pulling their weight and going the extra mile, from fund raising bucket collections with a bucket on trains to those operating one of the most specialist cranes in the world. And we did it during one of the worst winters ever.”
A book commemorating the completion of Bridge 30 written by the railway’s civil engineer, Nigel Trotter, is available from all NYMR retail outlets priced at £5.
Train services for the 2011 season start on Saturday 19 February.
More details can be found on the NYMR website (www.nymr.co.uk) or by calling (01751) 472508.