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Full steam ahead for test track as Glebe Farm tries again

Hopes of a children’s railway coming to Congleton has “excited” parents, as test runs take place ahead of the track winning planning permission.

Astbury’s Glebe Farm is to resubmit a planning application to build a train track on the premises after the last one was withdrawn due to opposition from villagers.

Plans for the erection of a railway were withdrawn 12 months after they were submitted once Rob Lomas, who owns the farm, realised that Cheshire East Council would refuse the application.

Three different trains would run on the track – an electric, a diesel and a steam train. Four carriages would follow whichever train was on the track and each carriage can contain up to eight people – meaning 32 passengers could board, with a driver in the front.

Mr Lomas said: “We were hoping to be up and running last summer, but the plans are being sent in to the council again, and we’re now concentrating on getting it through.

“We’ve got a test run set-up for people to use, and everybody loves it. I think people thought it was literally a 15-tonne train, but it’s only a small one.

“The trains and carriages have been bought by an outside train fanatic, we’re just paying for the track.”

He added: “I’ve always liked trains and I’ll be looking forward to it opening. People will come from all over the country to have a go on it and it will only cost about £2 a head for a ride.”

Although the idea has been in Mr Lomas’ mind for a while, the wheels only started turning when a train enthusiast approached him and asked whether they could build a railway on his farm.

If the plans are approved, the track would be half a mile long and run around the edge of the farm, which is also home to 20 alpacas.

Since the application was first submitted to the council 18 months ago, the cost of the scheme has trebled – although Mr Lomas would not reveal the sum involved, he said it was a “fair amount”.

The Chronicle spoke to mums – who were all on board with the idea.

Jess Hall, who visited the farm with her son, Finley Perkins, said: “Currently the nearest train is in Rudyard, which is a bit far and it’s not always open, so it would be nice to have one closer.

“There’s also more here, with the animals, and I know Finley would enjoy it. It would be great for the kids, and they could even do a Polar Express around Christmas time. It would be exciting.”

Natalie Allen also found that the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway was “too far” away and liked the idea of a children’s train track coming to Congleton, for her little boy, Freddie.

She said: “I think it would be dead good, the kids would love it.
“There’s not many (around) and the closest places that do this sort of thing are just too far to go for a train.
“Freddie would definitely love a ride on the train and £2 for a ride is nothing; it’s not even the price of an ice cream!”

Ms Allen’s sister Joanne said it would be great for the town and the children, especially her daughter Imogen, who enjoyed her trip to the farm.

Steph Webster, who is expecting a child, also agreed that it would be good the plans were approved.

She said: “It would be great, and the more things that are here, the more people it will draw in.”

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