VOLUNTEERS at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway are delighted that its £1.25 million share offer has beaten its target.

The Broadway: the Last Mile offer exceeded its target by more than £80,000, raising £1,330,500 by the closing date of April 30, the railway confirmed this week.

Finance director Chris Bristow said the news underlines how much local people, as well as enthusiasts, want to see trains serving Broadway again after a gap of nearly 60 years.

“When our president Pete Waterman blew the whistle to set the Share Offer on its journey last April, we all hoped that we could meet our frankly ambitious target," he said. “Now, I'm truly humbled by the generosity of so many people.

“We passed our target with four weeks to spare. In railway parlance, we have completed our journey well ahead of schedule. Without a shadow of doubt, it means we can run our first trains into a brand-new Broadway station on March 30, 2018 - that's when the champagne corks really will be popping.”

He said the extra money fund engineering works intended to stabilise an embankment to ensure it is safe for the next 100 years.

“It's essential work, and although we had budgeted for some stabilisation, it has turned out to be more extensive than estimated. It's expected to cost around £400,000, so the additional £80,000, coupled with a substantial contribution from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust and dipping in to our reserves, means we can meet this challenge.”

He said the railway's 900-plus volunteers were grateful to all who contributed.

“All of us are astounded by this success. Whether they contributed £1 to a collecting tin, or £10,000: all of us are deeply grateful that we are able to fulfil the dream of our founders.

“We are now realising a large part of their vision to restore as much as possible of the former Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham railway line, an ambition that may people, at the time, said was an impossible dream.”