Volunteers working to reopen Helston’s former railway branch line and boost tourism to the area have had to hit the brakes due to the need to replace an essential piece of equipment.
Helston Railway Company has been clearing the line around Trevarno and Prospidnick towards Gwinear Road for the last 15 years and earlier this year set in motion a long-term scheme that could ultimately see the branch line fully re-established, allowing passengers to connect to the main line again.
Now members have launched a fundraising campaign to replace their ageing Ornstein & Kopple ‘road railer’, which is a key piece of equipment used for clearing and levelling, lifting and towing equipment, track and sleepers, and digging drainage ditches.
However, due to its frequent break downs work has had to slow and recently the line was blocked for three weeks after it became stranded.
Colin Savage, a director of Helston Railway and general manager of the company, said: “Unfortunately with its age and past hard work it now frequently breaks down and requires often expensive repairs.
“Lately it was marooned on the line for over three weeks due to a large systems failure and this blocked any other running on the line.”
A GoFundMe page has now been set up at www.gofundme.com/f/helston-railway-road-railer with the aim of raising £40,0000, so that work can continue.
Mr Savage added: “With the railway having to remain unopened due to the Covid pandemic we have no income other than some donations from well wishers and our own members digging deep.
“We haven’t been able to access any grants or insurance payments at this point so funding expensive repairs, even if we can locate spares, is now a big problem.
“We urgently need to raise money to acquire a more up to date and reliable machine so that our volunteers, most of whom are the wrong side of 60, can carry on their hard won efforts and continue to not only maintain the line at present but to push on and expand this blossoming community asset.”