The Anonymous Widower

Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

The current Weardale Railway is a heritage line, that extends the current National Rail service between Darlington and Bishop Auckland stations further up Weardale.

  • It is a single track railway.
  • The current operational length is 18 miles between Bishop Auckland West and Stanhope stations.
  • The line could be extended a few miles to the site of the former Wearhead station.
  • Thre is a station at the village of Stanhope which i has a castle, a community hospital and a population of 1,600.
  • There is a station at the village of Frosterley which has a population of 700.
  • There is a station at the village of Witton-le-Wear which has a population of 700.
  • There seem to be lots of caravan parks along the river.
  • From my virtual helicopter, the track looks in reasonable condition.
  • There appear to be a couple of passing loops.
  • There don’t appear to be any tunnels.
  • The Weardale Railway has several bridges over the River Wear.
  • I suspect the scenery is not bad.

To my untrained eye, this section of railway would appear to have possibilities for reopening, without any serious engineering problems.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Connection To National Rail

This Google Map shows Bishop Auckland station, where the Weardale Railway connects to the National Rail network.


  1. The station appears to be well-placed in the town.
  2. There is plenty of space for tracks connecting the two systems.

I suspect that building a combined through and terminal station that would satisfy the needs of all stakeholders would not be the most challenging of tasks.

Could The Extended Line Have A Japanese Fairy Godmother?


  • Hitachi’s train factory at Newton Aycliffe is five miles to the South of Bishop Auckland.
  • Hitachi have stated that they are developing battery-electric trains for lines without electrification.
  • Developers of modern trains with complicated computer systems seem to go through many software versions.

I have to ask the question, if Hitachi would like to have a twenty-mile test track on their doorstep?

If they were testing trains that were agnostic about their power supply, the Weardale Railway would not need to be electrified, although there could be a couple of charging systems.

Would Access To The Quarries At Wearhead Be Needed?

The original Weardale Railway was built to access the quarries at Wearhead, but they switched to road transport some years ago.

This Google Map shows the Wearhead area.


  1. Wearhead is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. There is a quarry and there used to be a fluorspar mine.
  3. The white scar at the East of the map was a cement works.

Is there something, that could possibly be mined in this area, that could be taken out by train.

I think it should be born in mind, that mining and quarrying used to be a very dirty and carbon-intensive industry, but big mining companies are now embracing zero-carbon technology.

Could A Holiday Company Like Center Parcs Develop A Site In The Wear Valley?

I noticed a lot of caravans and chalets, as I examined the line.

Could a big operator like Center Parcs develop one of their holiday centres?

It could even be developed with a station.

Is New Housing Needed?

Does the local authority want to develop housing along the line?

What Rolling Stock Will Be Used?

There is no point in extending the line in these days of global warming without providing zero-carbon trains.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is keen on hydrogen and there are good reasons.

  • There is hydrogen available from chemical plants on Teesside.
  • Hydrogen will give the trains a long range.
  • The trains would probably only need refuelling once a day.
  • In addition, Alstom are looking for an order for their Class 600 train, which is a conversion of a Class 321 train.

But I have my doubts about Alstom’s trains and Hitachi have doubts about hydrogen.


  • Do you really want to run hydrogen trains on a line where steam trains run?
  • Darlington station is fully-electrified and it is also to be remodelled for more capacity and High Speed Two.
  • Bishop Auckland and Darlington is just twelve miles.
  • Darlington and Saltburn is just thirty miles.

With charging systems at Bishop Auckland, Saltburn and Stanhope, I am fairly sure Hitachi could develop an electric train for Teesside’s railways.


Hitachi could be key to the design of the reopening of the Darlington and Weardale Line.


October 29, 2021 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] See Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services […]

    Pingback by Restoring Your Railway Planning Funds Allocated « The Anonymous Widower | November 3, 2021 | Reply

  2. […] I wrote Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails in January 2020 and since then the Department of Transport has funded a study to examine the extension of the Tees Valley Line past Bishop Auckland, which I wrote about in Reopening The Darlington – Weardale Line To Passenger Services. […]

    Pingback by Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Teesside « The Anonymous Widower | November 14, 2021 | Reply

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