THE Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has been given the royal seal of approval after the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall accepted honorary life membership.

With the heritage railway closest to their Highgrove home in Gloucestershire, the prince is an occasional visitor to heritage railways and has also enjoyed travelling by the Royal Train on the national network with a steam locomotive in charge.

Henry Howard, chairman of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust, said: “I’m delighted that His Royal Highness and The Duchess of Cornwall have accepted our invitation to become honorary life members of our fast-expanding railway.

“His sister, The Princess Royal, has visited the line both privately and in an official capacity, when she opened Cheltenham Racecourse station in 2003.

“We have exciting events on the horizon, not least of which will be the opening of Broadway station and completing a new carriage overhaul facility at Winchcombe.

“Their Royal Highnesses have yet to visit the railway and of course we would be delighted to welcome them and demonstrate why we are attracting up to 90,000 passengers each year.”

The volunteer-run attraction operates steam and heritage diesel train services over a12-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe, Toddington and Laverton.

Meanwhile, the railway’s appeal Bridges to Broadway, a new Share Offer to raise £500,000 to pay for the refurbishment of five bridges where the line will pass to extend the line to Broadway has reached more than £450,000.

Alan Bielby, chairman of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Plc, added: “This means we are on track to re-open the line as far as Broadway in about three years.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and a powerful demonstration of what volunteer effort can do. We’re preserving an important part of Britain’s railway and transport heritage as underlined by several awards."