The Churnet Valley Railway has announced that it is to receive a £19,000 grant to see the long-held dream of returning to Leek a reality.
This forms part of a 5-Year plan that will see over £1 million invested into the heritage line.
The £19,000 grant comes from the Moorlands Partnership Board and will help to lay the first 200 metres of track from Leekbrook towards Leek, land which is already under control of the Churnet Valley Railway.
The cost of materials for this first stage of work is approximately £40,000, and using volunteer labour to install, the CVR has been able to allocate £21,000 at the current time.
The grant, therefore, will cover the shortfall and will allow work to start immediately with the clearance of earthworks already planned in for the line’s Permanent Way Team over the next few weeks.
The estimated cost of re-opening the line to Leek has been estimated at £853,000, and the railway has been invited to submit an application to the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) which will provide a significant grant towards the projected costings.
Following a successful first stage bid in 2018, a much more detailed bid is expected to be submitted to assist with the extension to the Barnfields area of Leek where a new platform and basic customer facilities will be provided.
To cover the remaining amount, the company will be launching its fifth public Share Issue in the summer, with the target of raising £200,000 to let the community play a part in bringing the railway line back to Leek.
With a set plan in place for the Leek extension, thoughts are also turning towards returning trains to Oakamoor. The CVR already owns the 2 miles of trackbed, and so rails can be returned once the resources are in place to do so. This is anticipated to commence once the line to Leek has become operational, this will enable the railway to provide an 8.5-mile journey from Leek into the heart of the Churnet Valley at Oakamoor passing through Cheddleton, Consall and Froghall along the way.
And to improve the visitor experience further, plans have been put together for the restoration of Cheddleton station building following its successful purchase by the line in 2018.
What did the officials say?
Long-standing CVR Director Tony Hancock comments
“Re-instating the line to Leek has been the ambition of so many people for so many years – and it’s now tantalisingly close thanks to support from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Severn Trent Water and the dedicated effort of our own volunteers. Now we really need some help from the local community to help us realise this dream together.”
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