The Churnet Valley Railway would like to extend a huge thank you to every who came to our recent Super Power Weekend.
The event was your first opportunity to actively support our recently announced “Reconnect Leek” project, that will see us re-open the railway line into Leek. This long held dream was first mooted way back in 1974, and it is now tentatively close to becoming a reality.
We opened Phase One last October, as Councillor Sybil Ralphs opened our 200 metre extension along the former track-bed. Then we were going to run three American S160s for the first time since 1944 this side of the Atlantic, until Mother Nature decided to step in and wash a section of track away. We recovered from this setback, and replanned the event to mark the start of our 2020 operating season.
And what a start it was. The sight of these American beasts drew unprecedented crowds – never before has the Churnet Valley Railway witnessed such large numbers on a single day. Takings were significantly higher than expected – with £30,000 being raised across the entire weekend. This entire amount (less costs) will go directly into Reconnect Leek and help with the extension. The biggest question by far has since been “How far can you extend now?” Sadly it’s not that simple, as before we can lay track we need to complete a number of inspections , surveys, appoint solicitors and other professionals all of which come with fees. And so this initial level of funding should see us able to cover the cost of these allowing us to move onto the next stage.
The whole project is expected to cost £1.2million, and we have our application for a grant being processed by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development. Our hope is this will provide over 60% of the costs, and a decision is expected during the spring. To keep up to date with the latest developments we have launched a new RECONNECT LEEK website outlining our plans. 2020 will see further Fundraising events for this, with our next planned specials to be operated over the weekend of 18th/19th April where members of the public will have their first chance to ride on the Phase 1 extension plus possibly an additional surprise!