THERE are just 20 metres of track left to lay before the first extension of Cutteslowe Park's miniature railway in 30 years is complete.

The railway, which is run by the City of Oxford Society of Model Engineers (COSME), has been under construction since 2016, with members dedicating their Saturday's to building the new track.

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The 230m route will take passengers beyond the current circular layout and into the park, crossing footpaths and past the children's adventure playground.

A planning application was approved by Oxford City Council for the scheme in 2015.

The Oxford Times:

Treasurer Sue Mulford said: "The idea came about because it became a little boring with just a circular track.

"Other miniature railways in parks are able to go through trees and even over bridges. That isn't possible here but the extension means we are going to make it a more interesting experience for everyone."

She added: "People are really getting excited about it opening.

"We've had lots of support from the Friends of Cutteslowe Park and park staff who helped do the digging for the track."

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She added safety had been a key consideration, explaining: "We'll assess things again once the track is done but many of the drivers have experience with similar tracks and there will be a guard with each train to be a second pair of eyes watching for children or dogs.

"The trains are going quite slow though and, as far as I am aware, there has never been any accidents from them crossing footpaths."

It is the first time the track has been extended since the group moved to Cutteslowe Park in 1988.

The society, which can trace its roots back to 1946, was originally based at Blenheim Palace after being offered the spot by the 10th Duke of Marlborough, who became president.

Trains ran on summer weekends from 1960 to 1987, but the Blenheim estate wanted the society to run services seven days a week during the tourist season, which the volunteers could not commit themselves to.

The Oxford Times:

Plans to rebuild the railway in Cutteslowe Park had already been drawn up, a lease was agreed with Oxford City Council, and the new track was officially opened at Easter 1988.

With so little of the new track left to lay the expectation is that it will be running in time for the start of the summer season on April 7.

Chairman Denis Mulford said: "We hope to have it finished three to four weeks before so the drivers have time to get to know the new track. I think everyone is excited to finish. We're all getting a bit fed up with the digging and want to start driving."

A full timetable for 2019 season is available via cosme.org.uk.

For updates on the final stage of the track extension visit the Cutteslowe Park Miniature Railway Facebook page.