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Steam trains set to run again on Watercress Line after fire risks ease
STEAM trains will resume running again on the Watercress Line tomorrow (Thurs) after fears over fire risk caused a four-week break.
The railway was concerned that with the hot weather and tinder-dry ground sparks from the engines could cause serious fires along the track that runs from Alresford to Alton.
Since July 12 the heritage railway has run trains pulled by diesels.
Colin Chambers, chief executive, said it was the first time that steam trains had stopped operating because of fire risk since he took over in 2002.
Mr Chambers said there had been a couple of fires this summer along the track which firefighters had dealt with.
“We had a couple of fires but there are a lot of nice fields of ripening corn between Alresford and Medstead and if the fire spread on to farmland the farmers send us their bills for the crops.”
The renewed service will see the trains pulled by steam but with a diesel at the back to share the workload to ensure the engines do not throw out too many sparks.
Mr Chambers said since steam had been suspended there had been a 10-15 per cent drop in passengers although most people had been understanding of the issue.
He added: “We really want two days of good rain. But we felt with the recent rain and the harvesting it was safe to restart.”
The ever-popular 'A Day Out with Thomas' runs from August 10-18.
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