The infrastructure department is responsible for all the railway’s fixed assets along the line, which includes structures, buildings, stations, depots, track, signalling and lineside conservation. These assets are fundamental for the continued safe operation of the railway and without which, we couldn’t run our heritage trains along the line. The Director of Civil Engineering has a small team of full-time staff that oversees the management and administration of these assets, but the bulk of the work is undertaken by volunteers. The different functions of the Infrastructure department can be broadly broken down as follows:


The railway has a large number of structures along the line – bridges (47), retaining walls (74), culverts (84) – all of which need annual examinations to confirm their condition. Some of these have been in-situ since the railway was built in 1865 and some have been renewed more recently by us. The examinations will dictate what, if any, work is required to keep them fit-for-purpose and able to allow the railway to run. Keeping these assets maintained and serviceable can be very expensive and most of our major reconstruction work is externally grant funded. For example, since 2020, we have replaced 3 life-expired wrought iron bridges at Goathland, at a combined cost of £2m. Routine maintenance work is generally carried out in-house or by a select number of trusted contractors.


The Estates Manager is responsible for the maintenance and renewal of all buildings, stations and depots (BS&D) along the line, the majority of which have listed status – which dictates that any work carried out must reflect the heritage nature of the asset and is subject to Listed Building Consent. We have a portfolio of 58 buildings, 16 lineside huts, 5 stations and 4 signal boxes and pride ourselves on the appearance of our heritage stations, having won awards recognising the way these are presented. In addition, the Estates Manager is responsible for site-wide water quality and treatment, effluent discharge, pest control, electricity, gas & oil, bin & skip hire, fire extinguishers, electrical installations, alarms and PAT testing of equipment.

Permanent Way

The railway track or permanent way is the elements of railway lines: generally, the pairs of rails laid on sleepers in ballast, intended to carry the trains of a railway. It is described as permanent way because in the earlier days of railway construction, contractors often laid a temporary track to transport spoil and materials about the site; when this work was substantially completed, the temporary track was taken up and the permanent way installed. The name has remained.

Led by our permanent way team leader, the P. Way department consists of a small number of full-time staff supported by many volunteers who carry out most of our heavy renewal and maintenance works over winter when we are not running trains. End-to-end track walking is undertaken every week during the running season to ensure the track is in top condition for the operation of the railway. Advancement in hand-tool technology also allows us to carry out many maintenance tasks as day-to-day activities, when only a few years ago we would have had to close the railway to achieve the same result. Away from the line near Pickering, the team maintains our fleet of on-track plant and machinery, which includes tampers, a ballast regulator, rail crane and 360º excavator.

Signalling and Telecommunications

As you travel along the line, you will probably have noticed the range of signals, both mechanical (semaphore) and electrical (colour lights), that we use to control our trains. What you see however, is the tip of an iceberg - a complicated network of cables, levers, rods and other items required to operate a safety critical system that ensures the right signal operates and interlocks at the right time – all installed and maintained by our S&T team.

Level crossing maintenance also comes under the S&T remit and we are very fortunate to have senior Network Rail signalling designers amongst our volunteer community, ensuring our designs are done in-house.

Lineside Conservation

Also very much part of the Infrastructure team is lineside conservation. Managed by the Lineside & Environmental Sustainability Manager, we are working in collaboration with partners such as Natural England, Forestry England, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, North York Moors National Park, the Butterfly Conservation Trust and many others to investigate, maintain and promote the huge diversity of our lineside.

The lineside team recently won the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) award for Environmental Innovation with our Primrose Path Project.

Read much more about the lineside team.

Volunteering Commitment:

  • Attend Induction Course. 
  • Commit to attending on average at least two occasions per month or equivalent throughout the season. 
  • A reasonable level of health and fitness is required. 


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