The Bluebell Railway says public support has helped it hit its initial £300,000 fundraising target to help it recover from closure.
The railway’s fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson said: “A thousand thanks – in fact, three-hundred thousand thanks – to everyone who has contributed to the appeal and helped the Bluebell Railway to survive. The money will be used to keep key heritage skills in Sussex and ensure we can reopen when it is safe to do so.”
He added: “We are still raising money because we don’t yet know when the lockdown restrictions will be eased and what measures we will have to put in place to allow heritage railways to welcome visitors again safely. Anyone who wishes to donate to the appeal and hasn’t yet done so can still contribute.”
The not-for-profit heritage line, which runs steam-hauled trains from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, set an initial target of at least £300,000 to cover the costs and expenses which continued during the lockdown and to fund the necessary spending to reopen. It asked members and supporters to donate and then broadened the appeal to include public contributions.
The Bluebell Railway says the continuing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic means it will keep the appeal going and the money will be used to help the railway through the rest of this year and over the winter months when it traditionally has less income but still has bills to pay and overheads to meet.
The railway is celebrating 60 years of operation in 2020. It opened as a heritage line on 7 August 1960 as the UK’s first standard gauge preserved passenger railway operating steam-hauled timetabled services. The fundraising appeal can be found here.