The Volks Electric Railway looks set to miss it first summer season since 1948 following delays to the “Saving Volks” Lottery funded project. a previously unknown – but live – gas supply was found during the demolition of the car sheds and this caused delays to the project which mean the expected end date will now not be achieved.
Demolition work had begun last autumn with Aquarium Station and Car Sheds demolished in November 2016. It was at this stage that the gas supply was discovered. This was inside a very old pipe that was once the Traffic Superintendents office and was probably capped off but not disconnected several generations ago. Gas specialists had to be brought in to fully disconnect the supply but this has meant the demolition work hasn’t progressed as quickly as had been hoped. As well as the gas supply there has been an elusive electrical cable which took a while to locate and isolate.
Although this is bad news the chance has been taken to completely replace the eastern passing loop and all of the old concrete sleepers (dating from 1946). It is hoped that the loop will be completed during April. Once this is done the entire line will be in good condition and shouldn’t need much attention for five years.
The Heritage Lottery Fund backed project is also seeing the restoration of some of the trains which form the fleet and to this end 4, 6 and 10 have been moved to Alan Keef Ltd, near Ross-on-Wye. So far 4 and 6 have had their new underframes constructed and many of the original structural components have been renovated and placed in position. As many original parts as possible will be used in the restorations.
With work on the line continuing to progress it is hoped that services may be up and running again by the autumn. This is the first summer season the line would have missed since its closure for the Second World War between 1940 and 1948.