Park is on track for a mini railway revolution

Derek Moss
Derek Moss

A train enthusiast is looking forward to breathing fresh life into the popular miniature railway at Haigh Woodland Park.

Derek Moss has been given a two-year contract extension to continue running the much-loved Wigan attraction.

The train at Haigh Woodland Park

The train at Haigh Woodland Park

And the former Network Rail signals and communications engineer is now looking ahead to overhauling the current rolling stock and tracks, which winds their way through the Haigh woodland.

And alongside refurbishing his carriages his eventual dream is to reintroduce the golden age of steam to Wigan, by running a miniature locomotive between the line’s two stations.

Derek, who is from Appley Bridge, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Wigan Council to improve the railway.

“We are looking at replacing one of our coaches and scrapping one of our locos because it has reached the end of its serviceable life.

“And we are also in negotiations to bring steam back to the railway so this investment by the council is really welcome.”

Derek, who worked on the railways for nearly a quarter-century, first became involved with the Haigh railway four years ago.

Back then it had been closed for around two years and was in need of restoration, which remains one of his ongoing goals.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for corporate contracts and assets at Wigan Council said: “We see the train as a valuable asset to park and will continue to support the operator to make improvements to this facility as it will enhance the Haigh Woodland Park experience for our visitors.”

Coun Carl Sweeney, the portfolio holder for resources and reform, has approved a raft of proposals concerning the railway, subject to them being ‘called-in’ by fellow councillors.

He has committed the council to replacing or exchanging some of the existing rolling stock, including locomotives and service carriages, as well as giving Derek the green light to carry out his own renovations, as well as the two-year extension agreement.

The miniature railway, which runs all-the-year-round subject to the weather, was originally unveiled by the borough council in 1986.

Because it runs between two stations it actually comes under the auspices of the Office of the Rail Regulator, like its larger counterparts.