A MAJOR fundraising appeal to extend the Gloucestershire Warwickshire SteamRailway (GWSR) line to Broadway has passed £300,000.

The heritage railway, which needs £500,000 to repair five bridges between its present railhead at Laverton and Broadway station, received an early Valentines gift over the weekend after the appeal reached £330,000.

As previously reported, Share Offer Bridges to Broadway was launched last October to fund the repairs which will see trains running between Broadway and Cheltenham for the first time in more than 50 years.

The success of the fundraising means contracts for the work on five bridges over which the railway will cross, are now being put out to tender.

Alan Bielby, chairman of GWSR Plcs, said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of local people as well as railway supporters.

"We hope to be able to place the bridge contracts by May so that we can take full advantage of the summer weather," he said.

"Work will start at the Laverton end and work towards Broadway, so the embankment and track work can follow.”

Mr Bielby is also urging those who would like to participate but have not got around to it yet, to act now before it is too too late.

"It seems that there is a huge groundswell of people who really want to see trains reach Broadway once again – more than half a century after the last passenger train stopped there," he said.

“People have a lot of love and affection for ‘their’ railway and their investments are the best possible Valentine gifts, as they will speed the work to put Broadway back on the railway map.”

He added that anyone visiting the Broadway station site will see the very rapid progress that has been made in building a new station on the site of the long-demolished original.

“Two platforms have almost been completed using recycled original railway bricks and platform edging slabs, the signal box is now under construction and planning permission has been granted for the other station buildings," he said.

“Volunteers from the railway’s Broadway Area Group have done an extraordinary job.

“All it needs is the track to be in place to make it a functioning station once again. The new station will look very much like the original, so anyone re-visiting from the 1950s will recognise it.”

All of the bridges need work, but two require significant repairs to fix damage caused by corrosion, movement of the embankments or strikes by lorries.

Other work includes clearing decades of undergrowth, repairs to the embankments and drainage works before new track can be laid.

The minimum investment in the share offer is £100.

To view a copy of the Bridges to Broadway share issue document visit gwsr.com/bridges-to-broadway/ or call 01242 621905.