Could it be full steam ahead for historic line?

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The area’s most historic rail route could have new life breathed into it in the next few years.

‘Through Kirton Tunnel’ was the title of a book on the Gainsborough Central to Barnetby Railway line, written a decade ago, but hopes then for a restoration of a full rail service through Kirton Lindsey and Brigg have still to be fulfilled. Now feedback from a consultation day held outside West Lindsey District Council offices in Gainsborough on the future of the line has raised new enthusiasm.

Cliff Mayall, Area Station Manager for Northern Rail, John O’Grady Client and Stakeholder Manager and Paul Johnson Chairman of the Friends of the Brigg and Lincoln Rail Group explained how the line could be given its second coming.

“We are not going to get an hourly weekday service, but we might get one every two hours. We have to be realistic about what we want,” said Mr Mayall, who also confirmed Northern Rail would like to continue to operate the line.

“I know this line well,” he added. “In the 1970s I spent three weeks working in Kirton Tunnel - the tunnel is 1,334 yards long, built to last in the 1870s but it is still in ‘good nick’ now and could handle increased traffic.”

And John O’Grady paid tribute to the ‘Friends of the Line’.

“They are doing a tremendous job raising its profile,” he said.

“The challenge is to present a business case. Only 70 passengers use the six trains on a Saturday. That’s where the profile needs raising.”

In 2008 the line was upgraded and Network Rail will completely reorganise signalling by 2017.

“It will be replaced by a computerised system,” added Mr Mayall.

“The level crossing gates in Brigg will be operated this way and the signal box will go.

“At the present moment the signal box is closed from 7am to 1pm Monday to Friday, so present goods trains cannot be put through then.

“The proposed new signalling will offer new possibilities.”

Nostalgia it may be for those who remember the thriving line of the 1960s through Brigg and Kirton Lindsey, but hopes for a better service keep being raised though there is still clearly work to be done in attracting increased passenger numbers on Saturdays.

A single line it may now be but Kirton tunnel at least is ready for the hoped-for revival.