East Lancashire Railway on the right track as donations hit £100,000

The future of The East Lancashire Railway has taken a step closer to being secured as donations to ensure its survival passed the £100,000 mark.

By Dominic Collis
Friday, 5th June 2020, 3:45 pm

The cherished heritage attraction launched a £200,000 emergency fundraising drive in March after the Coronavirus crisis forced it to close its doors.

Backed by steam enthusiast and East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society President Pete Waterman, contributions to the East Lancashire Railway Support Fund have poured in from as far afield as Australia, America and the United Arab Emirates, pushing its total to £100,000.

But, without reaching its target the railway risks remaining closed for good.

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A train on the East Lancs Railway steams towards Rawtenstall, February, 2018

To mark the milestone and celebrate the great memories made at the railway, volunteers have united to record ‘Dreams of Steam in East Lancashire’, a poem written in tribute by chairman Mike Kelly.

Mike said: “It’s been really heart-warming to see the support for our emergency appeal from every corner of the globe.

“On behalf of everyone at the East Lancashire Railway I would like to say how grateful we are for each and every contribution.

“We’re making great progress towards our £200,000 target which will secure the future of the railway for generations to come. But we’re not quite there yet.

“Our volunteers have come together to create a fantastic tribute to our railway. To make sure we can survive and everyone can return to enjoy it with us, I urge anyone yet to donate to do so now.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors once more when it is safe to do so.”

Running a heritage railway is an expensive activity - with it costing £2,000 just to get a steam engine down the track each day.

Since closing its doors, the railway - a registered charity - has drastically streamlined operations, with just a minimal core team remaining to carry out essential operational processes and maintain the security of the site.

Operating from Bolton Street Station in Bury, East Lancashire Railway is a long-standing favourite for children and adults alike, running a host of events all year round including a Sping Bank Holiday 1940s weekend, murder mysteries, ale trails and the Santa Special Christmas trains - as well as well as regularly playing host to the iconic locomotive The Flying Scotsman.