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The Bluebell Railway has raised nearly half the £300,000 it needs to recover from closure.
The heritage line says the appeal money will be used to survive the lockdown when there is no fare income from passengers. The railway also relies each year 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.
The emergency appeal had raised more than £140,000 by Monday evening (18 May). Donations have come from the railway’s own members as well as supporters and the general public.
The railway’s fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson said: “The appeal is well on its way to reaching £300,000 with almost half of the target being reached. If you have already donated, thank you very much; if not, can you help to ensure that our wonderful railway gets back into business.”
He said the £300,000 target was based on financial modelling by the railway to cover the lost income from the closure and the necessary spending to reopen.
All events at the Bluebell Railway up until the end of August have either been cancelled or postponed. Events from September until the end of December are still under review. The railway announced on 20 March it was closing until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bluebell Railway 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 is at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/support-bluebell