While we continue to mention those heritage tramways which have reopened since the latest relaxation of Covid restrictions it should be remembered that there are still some which have not yet been able to reopen. One of those is at Beamish and they recently provided an update of the status of the tramway on their Transport and Industry Blog which explains why it hasn’t operated yet this year.
Trams last ran at Beamish in March 2020, just before the first lockdown, and because of a combination of factors it is likely to be a while before they operate for the public again. Although there was a previously announced return of the start of September for a Circular Tour type of service this date has not been mentioned in the latest update so it’s a case of watch this space for when trams may return.
In the update – which can be viewed at http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2021/07/ti-news-23-2021/ – details of three areas which need attention are given. These are the infrastructure, training and the trams themselves. The infrastructure seems to be the biggest sticking point to the reopening of the tramway as just before lockdown hit a new set of standards for its maintenance had been drawn up and the track does need some attention before trams can run again.
The tramway loop will be dealt with in two sections – the first will be Foulbridge-Entrance-Pockerley-Town East (Bakery) with that from Foulbridge to the Town requiring more work as the alignment needs to be checked and cant and ballast shoulders need to be restored along with a more medium-term rail renewal on Bog Bend.
Once the tramway infrastructure is looked at there will need to be training of the crews – because of how long it has been since the trams operated – and the timing of this needs to be carefully planned especially with the museum being busier during the school summer holidays.
The third area, the trams, seems to be the most straightforward as they have already gone through exams and testing to allow them to be shunted around the depot area. But without an open tramway or any tram crews they won’t be going anywhere!
The update also gives some more information on Gateshead 10 which it is hoped may possibly run again in 2022 but it does still need a contract overhaul of the body and a contract repaint which will come after the mechanical and electrical overhaul is completed. And all of this will depend on the allocation of the necessary funding to complete the work.