THE future of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) is step closer to being secured, the attraction has said, after donations to its survival fund topped £100,000.

The popular heritage railway launched a £200,000 fundraising appeal after it was forced to close its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Without the much needed cash it is feared that the ELR may have to close for good.

However, donations to its support fund have been flooding in from across the world, including from supporters in Australia, the USA and the United Arab Emirates.

It has also received the backing of by steam enthusiast, record producer and East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society President, Pete Waterman.

Mike Kelly, ELR chairman, said: “It’s been really heart-warming to see the support for our emergency appeal from every corner of the globe.

“On behalf of everyone at the East Lancashire Railway I would like to say how grateful we are for each and every contribution."

As a result of the pandemic the ELR has had to "drastically streamline" its operations.

Just a minimal core team remain at the heritage attraction to carry out essential operational processes and maintain the security of the site.

However, maintaining the railway is an expensive business, costing £2,000 just to get a steam engine down the track each day; the ELR said.

To mark the milestone of reaching £100,000 worth of donations volunteers have united to record a tribute poem written by Mr Kelly entitled ‘Dreams of Steam in East Lancashire’.

Mr Kelly said: “We’re making great progress towards our £200,000 target which will secure the future of the railway for generations to come. But we’re not quite there yet.

“Our volunteers have come together to create a fantastic tribute to our railway.

"To make sure we can survive and everyone can return to enjoy it with us, I urge anyone yet to donate to do so now.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors once more when it is safe to do so.”

To support the ELR and listed to the Dreams of Steam in East Lancashire recording visit