East Lancashire Railway needs £200,000 to survive

Heritage attraction The East Lancashire Railway is urgently appealing for the public’s help in raising £200,000 to survive for the next three months.

East Lancashire Railway is a long-standing favourite for children and adults. Photo: Christopher Ainscough
East Lancashire Railway is a long-standing favourite for children and adults. Photo: Christopher Ainscough

The railway was forced to close last month due to the Covid-19 crisis, bringing their spring calendar – and therefore visitor income – to a halt.

Thanks to the kind donations of supporters, the East Lancashire Railway Support Fund, set up to secure the future of the site, has already reached £27,000 through the online fundraising and direct contributions.

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But with the closure now predicted to last until June at the earliest, much more is needed for the attraction to survive – with bosses revealing it costs £1,750 just to get a steam engine down the track each day.

As a result, the registered charity is urgently asking the public to continue to donate and ‘pay it forward’ to help reach the target of £200,000 and allow people to enjoy the railway at a later date.

The East Lancashire Railway Support Fund can be found here.

East Lancashire Railway is a long-standing favourite for children and adults alike, running a host of events all year round including a May Day 1940s weekend, murder mysteries, ale trails and the Santa Special Christmas trains – as well as playing host to the iconic locomotive The Flying Scotsman regularly.

The charity has streamlined operations, with just a minimal core team remaining to carry out essential operational processes and maintain the security of the site.

Mike Kelly, chairman of East Lancashire Railway said: “The railway is fighting for survival. The loss of income for many months is a huge financial burden, and as such Covid-19 threatens our very existence.

“Most of our permanent staff are already on furlough, and many key events have been postponed, with significant costs incurred.

“We are hugely grateful for the support we’ve received so far - it’s amazing to see how many people value the railway.

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“We still have a huge total to try to raise to protect our heritage site for our volunteers and visitors to enjoy in future, so while we appreciate it’s a difficult and worrying time for all of us, we ask people to dig deep to support us so we are able to reopen when it is safe to do so.

“We would also encourage customers who’ve already booked to rearrange their visit for later in the year and to also please book tickets for the future, as this will be vital to help us continue over the coming months.”

To support East Lancashire Railway in this difficult time visit: www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk.