Full steam ahead for £1.8m rail campaign

A £1.88million fund-raising campaign has been launched by volunteers of a heritage railway to fulfil dreams of being fully operational by 2020.

Dedicated members of the Aln Valley Railway (AVR) have unveiled the Let’s Get To Alnmouth Appeal and are urging as many people as possible to pledge financial support.

Ambitions of reopening the branchline between Alnwick and Alnmouth have spanned nearly two decades and work finally started at the town’s Lionheart station site in 2012. Now a major push to raise funds to complete the job is full steam ahead.

Roger Jermy, of the AVR, which last year won a national award from the Heritage Railway Association, said: “The original AVR closed in October 1968 and many thought that it would never reopen. But now it has.

“We have laid more than 750 metres of track, but we need to lay another 2.5 miles .

“The aim is to have a new terminus in Alnmouth Station where people will be able to alight from a mainline train, walk across to the AVR platform once more and get a steam train to Alnwick.

“We are appealing for people to keep the momentum going by helping us raise £1.88million, which is the minimum we need to get the AVR operational into Alnmouth Station by 2020.”

A feasibility study has shown that the AVR would boost the number of visitors to the area and have a positive effect on employment.

AVR chairman Martin Robinson said: “The success of this appeal will ensure that we can establish a major new tourist attraction contributing to the economy of the area.

“We also plan to create a cycle path to run alongside the railway and provide a public-transport link between Alnwick and Alnmouth Station.”

The AVR is applying for grant-aid, but it also needs match-funding, and that’s where members of the public and businesses can help.

As a registered charity, the AVR can also claim Gift Aid on donations.

People can make a single donation, regular donation or leave a legacy.

Martin added: “We have already been promised more than £120,000 towards our target, so if people could help us to achieve the rebuilding of this wonderful Northumbrian branchline, please make a donation now.”

For single donations, visit alnvalleyrailway.co.uk/donate

Anyone wanting to make a regular donation by standing order, or a legacy, can contact AVR treasurer Tom Spence by emailing tom@alnvalleyrail way.co.uk. Alternatively, call Tom on 01665 572028.

Plans for reopening the AVR were first launched in 1997, but complications and set backs stalled the project.

Amended plans from those conceived in the mid-90s were approved in 2010 and construction work started in early spring 2012.

The AVR’s Lionheart site is open during the summer. Visit the AVR website for details. A fund-raising AVR song is available to buy from the site during opening hours.