28 May Bluebell Railway fundraising appeal on track as it passes £200,000 in contributions
The Bluebell Railway says its recovery appeal is on track after raising more than £200,000 of the £300,000 it needs to recover from closure.
The not-for-profit heritage line says there have been at least 1,500 individual donations ranging from a few pounds from children offering their pocket money to several thousand pounds from members and supporters.
The railway’s fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson said: “The totals include a commitment by two individuals who wished to remain anonymous to jointly donate £5,000 including Gift Aid if the total reached £195,000. That has now happened and taken the total over £200,000.”
He added: “We are hopeful of raising at least another £50,000 and maybe even £100,000 to reach our destination and hit our target of £300,000.”
The railway set a £300,000 target based on financial modelling to cover the lost income from the closure and the necessary spending to reopen. It 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.
A Bluebell Railway spokesman said: “We are now looking at the logistics and practicalities of reopening. We are examining how to ensure social distancing and provide health protection while operating as a heritage railway.”
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