£1.88m appeal launched to lay full Aln Valley Railway track

The Aln Valley Railway has launched an appeal to raise £1.88m to allow it to complete the line

The Duke of Northumberland
The Duke of Northumberland

A blossoming heritage railway in Northumberland has launched a £1.88m fundraising drive to allow it to reach its destination.

The Aln Valley Railway provided a link between Alnwick and Alnmouth up until 1968.

For almost 20 years, volunteers worked towards the reopening of the railway.

In October last year, their blossoming project was officially opened by its patron the Duke of Northumberland.

Now, railway bosses have launched the Let’s Get to Alnmouth appeal, which aims to raise the money needed to allow track to be laid all the way to the village’s mainline station.

The project, which to date has only laid track at the Alnwick end of the planned line, is aiming to have the line fully operational by 2020.

The appeal has seen bids lodged with funds including the Coastal Communities Fund, while the team is keen to get match funding from other sources which would improve the chances of applications succeeding.

Committee members have attended a Northumberland County Council meeting at which officers agreed to consider providing financial assistance.

Already, the team has more than £120,000 in place, from the Duke, running receipts and promised donations from individuals. They have also seen money raised through sales of a song penned specially for the project.

Chairman Martin Robinson said: “We are very pleased indeed with the way it is going. It is about getting the railway built and getting into Alnmouth.

“To get into Alnmouth by 2020 which is ambitious but achievable. The more money we get in, the more we can stick to that programme.”

The railway team is already in discussions with the county council and Network Rail over extending the line to Alnmouth.

In addition, it is planning to create cycle and footpaths the full length of the railway, with some work having already been carried out at the Alnwick end.

The line linking the two communities was built in 1850, and the project to reinstate it was set up in 1995.

After a series of setbacks, including failed funding bids and a rival proposal to designate the route of the line as a path, those involved have secured the land for the railway from the duke, the necessary planning permission, finance and rolling stock. Work began on the project in late 2012.

The Alnwick base has been built at Lionheart enterprise park due to the trackbed into the former town station being unavailable.

A museum has been constructed there along with a cafe and model railway.

The first short rides were offered to the public last summer.

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