A steam train service is coming to South-East London after they organisers secured the necessary funding to complete a new railway line.
The new railway will be a restoration of an old line long since removed that used to carry coal to a Victorian steam pumping station at Crossness. The pumping station is also being restored to its original Victorian ornate glory, and reopens later this month following an asbestos scare in 2017.
A separate project, the Royal Arsenal Narrow Gauge (RANG) railway aims to carry visitors to Crossness from the local car park to the pumping station itself, which is inside the Thames Water sewage treatment works.
In order to achieve that, they need to lay new railway tracks, and restore an old steam locomotive and carriages.
Restoration of the Severn-Lamb locomotive Busy Basil and a rake of carriages is nearly complete following a donation of £29,800 from Enovert Community Trust.
Over the past few months, they’ve been crowd-funding to raise money to buy rail materials and points to get the train on the move. Yesterday – they hit their target, having raised £13,286 from 119 supporters.
Thanks to the public donations, they can build 700 metres of track from the front gate to the pumping station, and soon start to operate London’s newest train service.
Adding to the heritage of the railway, it’s thought that the alignment of the proposed railway, by chance happens to follow that of a temporary railway which was built to support the construction of the treatment works during the 19th century.
The light railway will be a single track of 18 inch gauge track, with passing loops and two small train stations at each end. As only a single train will be in use, they hope to avoid the need for signals, but that’s subject to rail regulator approval.
Give it a couple of years, and a trip on the new Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood could conclude with a trip on a steam train.