The Bluebell Railway says its fundraising appeal is heading towards its target after supporters contributed £250,000 to help it recover from closure.
The not-for-profit heritage line set a £300,000 target to replace the lost income from the lockdown and to fund the necessary spending to reopen.
The railway’s fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson said: “We have received contributions great and small and thank everyone who has donated to the appeal. We are currently at £250,000 and with a little more help we can make it all the way.”
He added: “We have been heartened by all the personal stories of the happy memories we have created for people who have visited the Bluebell Railway down the years and hope we can continue to provide wonderful days out when the line reopens.”
The Bluebell Railway closed on 20 March because of the virus pandemic and has not received any fare income from passengers since then which is the main source of revenue each year. The railway also relies on sales of food and drink at its cafes and restaurants, shop purchases, weddings, special railway charters and filming location fees to provide enough money to restore its historic locomotives and carriages. It has the largest collection of steam locomotives anywhere in the UK after the National Railway Museum.
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. It runs on 11 miles of track from Sheffield Park in East Sussex to East Grinstead in West Sussex. The fundraising appeal can be found here.