Experts from Network Rail are helping to get Wicksteed Park’s famous railway ready for passengers once again – after volunteering to do essential track repair and maintenance work for free.
Around 20 volunteers from the arms length government body, which is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the country’s railway network, will begin work this week.
It is hoped that it will be completed within a few days so that passengers can be taken around the park once more.
The famous toot of the Wicksteed Park trains has been missing due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the resulting decision to put Wicksteed Park Ltd, which ran the park, into administration.
The park is owned by Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which has funded a new much-streamlined company, Wicksteed Trading Ltd, which is working towards a full re-opening of its attractions next spring.
Ben Darling, Network Rail’s Distribution & Plant Section Manager for the East Midlands route, who lives in Kettering, answered the Trust’s call for volunteers to help. Network Rail encourages workers to take volunteer leave, so that they can spend time supporting charities and other organisations.
Ben and his wife Gemma will be among the volunteers helping with work on the track, which includes lifting a section and repairs to one of the curves, which are required due to the length of time the track has been out of use.
Ben said: “As a local resident, the Wicksteed Park railway project means a lot to me and I’d like to thank everyone with their help so far.
“The park, and its famous train, which takes visitors around the lake and woodlands, is a big part of the community in Kettering.
“I’m proud of my colleagues at Network Rail for helping to support the Wicksteed Charitable Trust. We are pleased to be using our experience on the railway to repair this track and get the train running again this summer.”
Lee Scragg, MD of Wicksteed Park, said: “Over the last few weeks we have been incredibly grateful for all the donations and offers of help that the park has received as we begin the process of rebuilding for the future.
“As we are a much-streamlined company with very restricted income at the moment, much of what has been achieved would have been impossible without the help of volunteers.
“We are incredibly grateful to Ben and his team, as without them we would not have been able to complete this work and get the trains which people love so much up and running again so quickly.”