The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) received a vital boost to help protect his future as the continuing impact of the pandemic forced him to fight for his financial survival.
The ELR Trust has given the Heritage Railway an interest-free loan of £ 300,000 to help them get through the remainder of the difficult winter period and provide moral support to their staff and volunteers.
The ELR Trust is a charitable organization made up of four groups of trustees, including the three local authorities crossed by the railway – Bury, Rochdale and Rossendale – and has overseen the successful development of the heritage railway for over 30 years .
The darling railway turned to the ELR Trust – which owns the land and leases the railway line to the ELR – for help after a harsh winter where lockdown measures resulted in a large amount of canceled services and events, which meant days before Christmas, it has been closed since November.
The railroad was unable to run its much-loved Santa Specials in December due to local coronavirus restrictions, robbing it of its biggest source of revenue for the year.
East Lancashire Railway President Mike Kelly said: “We are incredibly proud of the timeless experience the ELR offers hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers.
“However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us into an extremely difficult financial situation, as successive lockdowns and level restrictions have wreaked havoc and deprived us of crucial revenue for visitors.
“The restrictions also meant that we couldn’t run our Santa Special trains, an extremely popular event, which was extremely disappointing, and without that income we were left with the prospect of bankruptcy.
“As we move into 2021, with no certainty as to when to reopen, significant financial challenges persist.
“And so we are incredibly grateful for the support of the ELR Trust and this valuable lifeline of a timely and generous loan of £ 300,000, which gives hope for the future.”