The South Tynedale Railway are delighted to announce that they have been awarded Gold in the North East England Tourism Awards (NEETA) 2020 for all of their efforts towards becoming an ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism attraction.
The NEETA judges said: –
“The staff and volunteers at South Tynedale Railway are committed to being ethical, responsible and sustainable…
They are a shining example of a great community focussed venue with much of interest regarding steam trains for all ages.”
The last few years have seen lots of major changes at the Railway; which runs from Alston in Cumbria to Slaggyford in Northumberland, through the scenic South Tyne Valley in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Green energy has come to the fore with the installation of a biomass boiler and solar PVs, and the restoration and conversion of a steam locomotive ‘Green Dragon’ which runs on waste virgin wood briquettes rather than the traditional coal.
But there have been lots of small changes too; a reduction in single use plastic by providing wooden cutlery, use of cardboard and paper packaging wherever possible and swapping plastic bags for plant based cellophane ones. Old oil drums have been converted into plant holders and recycling bins; over 100 native woodland trees have been planted across the site and native haymeadow plants transplanted to the Slaggyford site as part of the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Plugging the Gaps project. Even the used chip fat from the Crossing Café is filtered and used!
Janis Goodfellow, General Manager commented: –
‘We take responsible tourism very seriously and we try to embed ethical and sustainable practices in what we do, whether it is using recycled materials in our crafts, creating invertebrate habitat or making decisions about our suppliers; we are delighted that our efforts have been recognised in these awards.’
In addition to the gold award the Railway were also recipients of a bronze award for Accessible and Inclusive Tourism. The Railway is fully accessible, dogs are welcome everywhere and the Santa Specials are becoming known for their accessibility for those with additional needs.
2020 was to have seen the launch of dementia and autism Wednesdays, with the running of special quiet carriages for those with additional needs and the Railway has plans to convert carriages to accommodate mobility scooters, increase the width of the doors, and install sound systems to facilitate a commentary of the journey and thus improve visitor experience. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, all of these plans have had to be put on hold. The current situation is having a serious impact on this rural heritage railway. No visitors of course means no income, but unfortunately expenditure continues and the Railway has launched an appeal to ask their supporters to help them through this period of enforced closure.
As Alan Farrar, Chair of the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society says:
‘Many heritage railways have now launched appeals to keep their essential services going; and we are doing the same. We understand that many people will already be supporting others both practically and financially and we hope that people understand why we have launched our appeal. We hope to be up and running as soon as it is safe to do so and we wish everyone the very best during this difficult time. We appreciate anything that people feel able to donate.’
Donations to the COVID -19 appeal can be made by visiting COVID-19 Appeal.