A TRAIN has run along the railway line between Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne with passengers on board for the first time in almost 50 years.
A group of 30 local people and council officials made the 24-minute return journey from a specially-built platform in Long Marston last Wednesday.
The Herald has also been told that CALA Homes, which is building 4,000 homes at the neighbouring airfield, was also represented.
They were on board a former London Underground train, which has been adapted by local firm Vivarail to run on branch lines or metro lines.
It marks a major milestone for Long Marston-based Vivarail’s Class 230 project as it was the first time it had carried passengers.
The prototype used last week has a diesel engine, but a pioneering battery-powered version is also said to be attracting attention from potential customers.
Vivarail was formed three years ago and has 20 fulltime employees and has accumulated a fleet of 228 underground carriages, which it will convert on order.
Spokeswoman, Alice Gillman, said: “To have developed a train in such a short space of time is a real achievement for a small company like Vivarail.”
The first passenger run was during the Rail Live show, which took place at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, where Vivarail is based.
Among those on board were ward district councillor Peter Barnes and council leader Chris Saint, and the council’s executive directors, Dave Webb and David Buckland, and senior planner, Dale Barker.
Cllr Barnes said: “I think it is the way forward with all the traffic on the roads and the very dangerous B6432. It may also be possible to have a station incorporated with the airfield development.”
But the presence of senior district council leaders is not an indication that the authority is shifting from its current neutral stance on the potential reinstatement of the line back into Stratford.
Cllr Saint said: “We were delighted to be invited to visit a local company to see the work they are doing, but there was no mention of the link to Stratford.”