THE National Railway Museum wants to put a new improved miniature railway into its south yard to attract more paying customers and boost its offer for model railway fans.

The museum has applied for planning permission to remove and reuse its existing mini railway, transforming the attraction into a dual track that can be travelled along by two different sizes of engines and rolling stock.

In a design and access statement produced by architects DSP, the council is asked to grant permission for the scheme with the aim that " in providing a more interesting and longer ride it will attract more paying customers and bring an enjoyable active railway experience to the NRM south yard."

The proposed track - with both 10 1/4 inch and 7 1/4 inch track - will cover the site of the current railway and extent to the edge of the car park and to the bottom of the south yard, and the mini trains will travel along a landscaped route, through a tunnel and around a hill.

New structures including a platform canopy at the start of the ride, a tunnel and an engine shed will be put up, and the existing structures of the ticket office and an exisitng 7 1/4 inch engine shed will be relocated under the scheme.

The architects added: "The new structures are designed to have an Edwardian heritage reference which is achieved with the use of decorative features including stylised and elaborated bargeboard and eaves timberwork also decorative cantilever elements developed to fit to the aesthetic of the relocated existing ticket office."

Managers at the railway museum say they want the new mini railway to be open from 10am-5.30pm, in line with the rest of the museum's opening hours, and say it will create opportunities for more volunteers to help with the operation of the track, and will draw more miniature railway enthusiasts to the museum for special events with visiting rolling stock