Work to restore the Volk’s Railway on Madeira Drive has been delayed by several months, following the discovery of an old underground gas pipe.
The pipe, which has lain dormant for many years, was unearthed during demolition work. The discovery meant specialists from Southern Gas Networks had to be brought in to disconnect the pipe and make the area safe before work could resume.
Unfortunately this has resulted in a delay to the original timescales, and the railway will now re-open in the autumn, a few months later than previously planned.
Counclllor Alan Robins, chair of the council's Economic Development and Culture Committee, said: “It’s disappointing, but when gas pipes are involved, we need to be absolutely sure that the area is completely safe before work re-commences.
“I’m very pleased that the work to disconnect and pipes and now been completed. This means we can get back on track, complete this fantastic project and secure the future of the world’s oldest electric railway for the next 100 years.”
The £1.65 million Heritage Lottery funded project will see three of the original train carriages restored, a newly built heritage visitor centre at the Aquarium station and a Conservation Workshop on the site of former train sheds.
Peter Williams, from the Volk’s Electric Railway Association, said: “It’s ironic that work to restore the world’s oldest electric railway should be delayed due to a gas pipe! But now that the problem has been resolved we will continue to work closely with the council to minimise delays as much as we can and get the restored Volk's Railway up and running as soon as practically possible."