The age of steam will be brought back to life this weekend in Aberdeenshire.
The Royal Deeside Railway is a standard gauge steam and diesel hauled heritage railway, in a beautiful setting running alongside the River Dee.
This weekend, it will be holding a steam and vintage rally weekend, on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August, from 11am-4pm.
The railway will be running steam services all weekend, and the line is currently about one mile long and the return journey lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.
Based the Milton of Crathes, there is an award-winning Victorian station, a railway carriage tearoom, a shop with ice creams etc., all with a wonderful view of the surrounding hills.
The Milton of Crathes complex includes craft shops, a restaurant and art gallery.
The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society is a registered Scottish charity, and is looking to expand.
It has now been operating for a number of years as a volunteer-based charity and has grown from an empty green field at the Milton of Crathes to a highly successful heritage train service, bringing a unique experience to many thousands of visitors every year.
In recent times, progress in extending the line westwards to its eventual destination in Banchory has been slowed by limitations in both manpower and finance. However, the volunteers now have two priority projects in hand to progress the railway westwards to the West Lodge in time for the 2019 season.
The members of the railway society are working hard to move these projects forward but the pace of progress is severely limited by financial constraints. An appeal has now been launched to help raise the funds to bring these key projects to reality.
To enable train services to be extended to the West Lodge platform location, three workscopes need to be completed. The cost of the work is estimated to be £15,000.
The Office of the Rail Regulator requires that a new semi-automated crossing barrier be installed in place of the current manually operated gates at Birkenbaud. The current workscope is 10% complete and it is hoped to finalise this project in time for the 2019 season.
The second is the completion of the new platform at Crathes West Lodge, where work is currently ongoing.
The platform is being built using a number of 20 ft half-height containers laid end to end, with timber decking and fencing, and suitable access ramps, steps and lighting. Current workscope is 80% complete and construction is planned for completion by the end of 2018. Remaining funds to be raised are £3500 for access walkways, fencing and paint.
The final part is upgrading of the track at the new West Lodge platform.
This project involves applying additional top ballast to the existing track and then rail levelling at the location of the new platform at West Lodge.
The main expenditure will be the supply and transport of approximately 6 x 20 ton loads of 20/40 aggregate ballast at a cost of over £400 per load. The ballast plus consumables will cost a total of £3000. This work has not started but it is planned to be complete in time for the 2019 season.
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