A HERITAGE steam railway in the Cotswolds is heading toward the final lap of its £1.5 million share offer, thanks to a last-minute boost in share applications

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's share offer, called Broadway: The Last Mile, must end at the end of April, just over a year after it was launched by the railway’s president, pop and TV impresario Pete Waterman.

But just one week into the railway’s 2017 operating season, there is now less than £100,000 to go with more than £1,160,000 raised.

The money is being used to extend the railway’s line to Broadway, linking the town by rail with Cheltenham for the first time since 1960.

Chris Bristow, the railway’s volunteer finance director, said “I can with confidence say that we will open our railway’s brand new Broadway station - built on the site of the original which closed in 1960 - in March 2018.

“With the money raised so far, we have repaired the original trackbed, put in new drainage systems, bought brand-new rail from British Steel at Scunthorpe for the track, dropped thousands of tons of ballast and now the line has extended from Laverton, which has been our northern extreme for five years, to within sight of Broadway station.

“But between there and the station itself is one of the highest embankments on our line - and it is unstable.

“It needs around £400,000 alone to repair it - much more than expected - and that must be done before we can lay the last few hundred yards of line into the station itself.

"British Railways patched up the embankment using ash and other unsuitable materials to the point that the whole structure needs considerable remedial work.

“So we need every penny we can get to enable that work to be completed on time.”

Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers for the first time. When trains reach Broadway, passenger numbers can be expected to rise significantly.

Chris Bristow said: “When we opened Cheltenham Racecourse station in 2003, our passenger numbers jumped by over 25 per cent. I expect the same to happen when Broadway station opens."