The West Somerset Railway marked a positive milestone on the road to recovery from Covid-19 with the first High Output Ballast Cleaner (HOBC) train seen running over WSR metals again after a gap of six months.

The Network Rail Ballast Cleaning Systems train arrived at Norton Fitzwarren, and made its first journey on the WSR line on Tuesday (June 23).

This was the first day of operation since before the March lockdown, and there will now be more wagons full of spent ballast being discharged at John Luffman’s mineral handling site at Norton Fitzwarren where the materials are cleaned, recycled and re-graded, mainly for further use in the construction industry.

The spent ballast was then loaded in nine, 80 tonne 'MFS' wagons, and the current HOBC plan is to operate for five days per week from now until mid-Feb 2021, and resuming later next year in line with NR's track maintenance programme.