‘It really is full steam ahead!’ – Railway could return to town after £1.4m grant


Leek could soon be welcoming the railway back into the town after Churnet Valley Railway was awarded a grant of more than £1.4 million.

The European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development has awarded £1,427,906.83 for the Heritage Railway Infrastructure project to reconnect Leek to the rail network.

The funding will cover 80 per cent of the cost of construction of just under one-mile of railway line and associated infrastructure from the present railhead to a new station off Barnfields Road; protecting the underground utilities; and providing a new footpath alongside the railway track.

It will also reconnect the former railway triangle at Leekbrook Junction, creating the first original operational triangle offering three different destinations in UK Preservation.

Anthony Hancock, chairman of the not-for-profit heritage railway, said: “Re-instating the line to Leek has been the ambition of so many people for many years and thanks to support from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and its leader, the dedicated effort from CVR volunteers and this fantastic funding award, this ambition is going to be fully realised. It really is full steam ahead now!”

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has been supporting the Churnet Valley Railway for a number of years in recognition of the important contribution the heritage railway makes to the wider visitor economy as well as enabling local residents to experience and enjoy their local heritage.


Councillor Sybil Ralphs, leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “This is a real vote of confidence in the potential of the visitor economy – and an acknowledgement that attractions such as this heritage railway can both encourage tourists to come to the Moorlands and then to stay longer”

The extension to Leek is just part of a wider proposals to extend the line – eventually passengers will be able to board the train at Oakamoor and travel directly to Leek, via all stations in-between, enabling people to enjoy the countryside without the need to take their car every time.

The announcement comes just as the Churnet Valley Railway is gearing up for the main operating season of 2020. This April sees the Border Explorer take to the rails, allowing visitors to travel every inch of the current serviceable rail network under the control of the CVR.

Mr Hancock added: “We also need to raise the final 20 per cent ourselves so we hope to welcome as many visitors as possible in 2020.”

Last week, the Moorlands Partnership Board, which is part of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, approved a grant of £12,791 towards the project. The grant will allow more work on the trackbed to the amount of more than £25,000.

A grant of £19,000 was offered last March 2019 towards the cost of reinstating the track on operational land.

Members were asked to approve a further grant offer from the MPB against the cost of restoring a further section of the track bed at a cost of £25,180. The applicant has requested a grant of £12,560 plus VAT to cover the costs of the contractor.


Councillor Mike Bowen said: “This is a big move to get the railway back into Leek. It could then be looked at to get the line to Stoke. This would take a massive amount of traffic off the roads. I support that this grant goes ahead as it is important to the project.”

Councillor Hilda Sheldon, who is also the chairman of the Moorlands Partnership Board, said: “This project opens up huge tourism opportunities for the Staffordshire Moorlands. It is a very important project.”





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