The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has enhanced its safety measures as it prepares to welcome back visitors from Saturday (August 8th).
The much-loved heritage attraction had intended to resume passenger services last weekend after closing its doors for four months amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But it put those plans on hold in order to properly assess what the surprise further lockdown measures announced for Greater Manchester on the evening of July 30th would mean for the public, staff and volunteers alike.
After careful consideration to reassure visitors, it was decided to implement a range of further safety measures in addition to the extensive plans already in place for the reopening.
These new measures will require all visitors to book tickets in advance of travel.
There will also be an enhanced track and trace system.
Visitors and staff will be required to have their temperature taken upon arrival at the station and individuals that exhibit a high temperature will not be permitted to enter the attraction.
Family groups will be requested not to mingle with other people outside their own bubble and seating will be restricted to maximise social distancing.
Face masks will be compulsory for all visitors and additional cleaning measures and sanitation facilities will be available.
One way systems for entry and exit from stations will be in place and social distancing must be maintained at all times.
The railway’s hugely-anticipated return follows months of uncertainty, during which its long-term future was cast into doubt.
ELR Chairman Mike Kelly commented: “Naturally, after weeks of preparation, we were disappointed not to be able to welcome back visitors and our volunteers last weekend as we had initially planned. But the safety of our passengers and volunteers is our number one priority.
“We’ve spent this last week enhancing our already robust safety measures and are really thrilled at the prospect of finally bringing the ELR out of its deep slumber and offering our visitors again the unique experience of a heritage railway.
“We want to thank everyone for their continued patience as we’ve adapted our reopening plans in line with the latest Government guidelines. We’ll continue to be responsive to the situation to operate as safely as possible at all times.”
The ELR’s two pubs, The Trackside and Buffer Stops, successfully reopened in July. Visitors and Passengers will still be able to visit both as they are operating outdoors only offering a wide range of real ale drinks and refreshments at Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations.
The East Lancashire Railway operates from Bolton Street Station in Bury, Gtr Manchester and was opened in 1987. It runs on a 12.5-mile line between Heywood in Greater Manchester and Rawtenstall in Lancashire. The original line carried passengers until 1972. It was formally closed in 1980 after being used to transport coal in the intervening years.
To view the revised timetable and book tickets visit: eastlancsrailway.org.uk.