On Sunday 26th The Middy staged a small ceremony for the ‘Cutting of the ‘First Sod’ with the railway’s President Mr. Tony Alston and Mr Rob Patten from TES 2000 Ltd, railway contractors, who are helping with advice and equipment. A train full of well wishers witnessed Mr. Patton, the Project Manager for the extension, turning over the first turf with a silver spade in the traditional manner for beginning the work of laying a new railway line.
TES 2000 and their associates Colas Rail are both major railway contractors working with Network Rail and will take on the Middy project as part of their Apprentice training schemes. It is hoped that the start on the preparation of the track bed work can be made during the October/November months after the Middy’s steaming season and before the Santa Specials in December.
Middy Volunteers have already made a start on the clearing of the old track bed and sorting the rail and sleepers the railway has been stockpiling in the previous years. When finished, the line will be little over double the existing length and total approximately a kilometre. There will be a small halt style station at the end of the line to be called Aspall, which will provide visitors with a destination for their trip on the Middy.
Rob Patten, Project Manager for TES2000 said “This is a great opportunity for TES, as we will use our track apprentices on this project which will be a great learning curve for them. This is a very exciting project to be a part of and I am very much looking forward to getting the machines in to kick the works off. Once complete, I hope that the extension of this historical part of Mid Suffolk can be enjoyed long into the future. It’s fantastic to be able to be giving something back to the community.”
Original estimates for completion of the project were up to three years, but with the very welcome help from TES 2000 and Colas Rail progress to completion could be a lot sooner.