South Tynedale Railway sees first female diesel driver in a decade!

Ray Bell from Alston in Cumbria
STR volunteer fulfills her 40 year dream to become a locomotive engine driver
Published Fri, 2018-08-24 15:46

Train-mad since childhood, Ray Bell from Alston in Cumbria has just fulfilled a 40 year dream to become an engine driver.




Ray Bell from Alston in Cumbria © STR

She has joined the volunteer crew at South Tynedale Railway and is thrilled to be taking passengers along the newly extended line to Slaggyford in Northumberland.

Ray says “As a four year old visiting a railway at Christmas I fell in love with the noise of the engines and that distinct railway smell, I’m now infatuated with this exquisite line and taking passengers through the beautiful North Pennines countryside is an absolute joy.”

It took Ray only 7 weeks of practice runs with an experienced driver before she successfully passed out as a diesel driver at the end of July. She is now a regular driver on the line, the highest and longest 2 foot gauge line in England and has set her sights on becoming a steam locomotive driver next.

But it’s not just about driving locomotives! South Tynedale Railway is run by a blended team of volunteers and a handful of paid staff and there are a multitude of other jobs which volunteers get involved with, from being a Christmas elf or a Halloween witch, to supporting family events and school visits to wrapping presents for the Christmas grotto or helping with mail outs in the office.

Alan Farrar, Volunteer Liaison Officer says:

“If you have a desire to drive, a fervor for firing, an appetite for admin or a voracity for volunteering in general then South Tynedale Railway would love to hear from you”.

The next Volunteer Taster Day will be held on Thursday 20th September and there will be opportunities to look round the site, chat to staff and volunteers and find out more about getting involved. Booking for the taster day is via the website but volunteers are most welcome to come along at any time and find out more. Contact

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