Directors at Great Central Railway (Nottingham) have announced that no vintage steam or diesel trains will be running from Ruddington until Easter 2021 at the earliest. Passenger services last ran from our heritage site during the February half-term before all trains were cancelled and the centre closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
The charity reveals that, over the last couple of months, The Office of Road & Rail and The Heritage Railways Association have been working with heritage railway groups up and down the country to determine ways in which they might start running safely again during the pandemic. As part of this they have had to consider how – or if – they can reopen the railway to the public whilst safeguarding both volunteers and visitors and still covering all its running costs.
Sadly, for Ruddington, it’s bad news. Commercial Director, Phil Stanway, says: “It is with huge regret, and much soul searching, that the GCRN Directors have come to the decision that – as we depend entirely on volunteers and a huge proportion of our volunteer base fall into the groups still most at risk, – together with the social distancing measures involved – we will not be operating any further services during 2020.”
Unfortunately, this also means GCRN’s highly popular ‘Santa Special’ services will not operate during December. So, this year, Ruddington children will instead need to write to Father Christmas to tell him which presents they’d like.
“It is unlikely that we could cover costs” reveals Phil. “Whilst this is not a good situation to be in, we have to put the safety of our visitors and volunteers before anything else. We fully appreciate that this decision will cause some disappointment amongst potential visitors and as we receive no external funding, will hit us hard financially over what would be our busiest periods of the year. The decision has not been taken lightly and we look forward to seeing you all on our trains again during 2021”
However, it’s not all gloom and doom. Phil adds: “We will be reopening various sections of our site to the public at weekends only from Saturday 15th August. This will include our Heritage Café, Model Railway and Road Transport sections. But, for the time being, this won’t include the Miniature Railway operated by the Nottingham Society of Model & Experimental Engineers. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to welcoming you all back on our trains soon.”
Between now and then GCR(N) says it will continue to work behind the scenes on lots of improvements in many areas of the railway, by ‘socially distanced’ volunteers, in preparation for welcoming passengers back on the trains in time for Easter 2021. Meantime, please note that pre-booked weekend heritage services on the Great Central Railway line south of Loughborough – which is currently operated separately from GCR(N) – have now been restarted between Quorn & Woodhouse and Leicester North only, with COVID-safe measures put in place.
Remember, on Sundays you can access Ruddington’s heritage centre and Rushcliffe Country Park for a Ruddy Good Day Out direct from Nottingham, West Bridgford, the Wolds Estate and Ruddington village aboard Nottingham City Transport’s 10C service. Guidance on using public transport safely during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic can be found >>HERE<<.