The Bluebell Railway says continuing support has pushed its fundraising appeal past £400,000.
The not-for-profit heritage line launched an emergency appeal for money in March at the start of lockdown. It asked members and supporters to donate and then broadened the appeal to include public contributions.
The Bluebell Railway’s fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson said: “The initial target for the appeal was £300,000 and there were plenty of people who thought that was over-ambitious. What happened was that we reached £300,000 which allowed us to reopen and, by mid-September, we have received the magnificent sum of £400,000.
“This is a truly remarkable response from members, shareholders and friends of the Bluebell Railway. The appeal remains open if anyone would like to make new or additional donations in the coming months.”
Further money came in from a “Virtual Track Trek” held in June with people walking 4.5 miles around their local area in a socially distanced way to replicate the length of the track from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes stations as a replacement for the regular group sponsored walk alongside the track.
The Bluebell Railway reopened on 7 August after being closed for 20 weeks and was able to celebrate its 60th birthday on the same day. It runs steam-hauled passenger trains from its base at Sheffield Park station in East Sussex.
It has introduced new measures to ensure it fully complies with Government guidelines on social distancing and health protection as well as the new law in England on the Rule of Six for group gatherings. Organised queuing and one-way systems are in place at stations and visitors book compartments for travel on the regular services or socially distanced seating on dining trains.
The railway has also been given a £250,000 grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to cover some of its costs over the next few months.
The Bluebell Railway’s fundraising appeal can be found here.
Full details of the Covid measures are available here.