A PROJECT to extend the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) to Broadway is steaming towards its £500,000 fundraising target.

The railway currently runs trains between Cheltenham Racecourse and Laverton, passing through Winchcombe and Toddington.

But work is taking place to extend the line to Broadway, through an ambitious project to repair five bridges, each well over 100 years old.

Volunteers have also been working to build a new station at Broadway and, once complete, the project will

see trains running between Broadway and Cheltenham for the first time in more than 50 years.

The money for the bridge repairs is being raised by a special share offer organised under the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, with the total raised now standing at £468,000 - just £32,000 short of its half-million target.

But railway supporters are facing a race against time to raise the remaining money - with the share issue scheme closing on October 31.

Christopher Bristow, GWSR Plc's volunteer finance director, said: "We are so close to achieving the objectives of the share offer and I'm so appreciative of all those, local people as well as railway supporters, who have invested."

Work on the project got underway in June and Mr Bristow said good progress has been made as a result of the fine weather.

"Although completion of this work is not at risk if we do fall short of the total, we will have to make up any shortfall from elsewhere which could delay other vital work on the two mile stretch of line, which is entirely on an embankment," he said.

"It we don't achieve our target it could delay other vital works and in turn, put back our three-year aim to get trains running to Broadway."

The two bridges in most serious need of repairs are at Station Road, in Broadway and at Little Buckland.

The extent of repairs has resulted in road closures, causing some disruption and local concerns.

But Mr Bristow said: "A road closure was inevitable at some point (at the bridge in Broadway), whether or not it was to be used to carry trains once again, because of its poor condition.

"I'm certain that local people will appreciate the finished result and I hope they will consider the inconvenience to have been worthwhile."

For full details of the 'Bridges to Broadway' scheme visit gwsr.com or call 01242 621905.