The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has received a fresh lifeline in the form of a £100,000 Government grant.

The further financial support, which comes in the second round of grants awarded by the Culture Recovery Fund, will help the railway in its battle to rebuild its finances.

Successive lockdowns have left the cherished heritage attraction fighting for its future.

Deprived of vital visitor income, it faced an unprecedented six-figure loss in 2020. And this year it is still facing a shortfall in revenue of as much as fifty per cent.

But, after the railway welcomes its first passengers of 2021 on Saturday, May 1, the grant, alongside its ongoing fundraising efforts allow it to begin to contemplate a brighter future.

East Lancashire Railway Chairman Mike Kelly, said: “Visitors are truly the lifeblood of this railway and we have missed welcoming them to all our popular events and galas.

“Their absence for much of the past year has had a devastating impact on our finances. At times it’s been difficult to see how we would be able to re-open.

“That’s why we’re so incredibly grateful for this latest financial award from the Culture Recovery Fund For Heritage.

“Their assistance throughout the past twelve months has played a critical role in our survival.

“We also remain indebted to the support we have received from other organisations as well as the incredible generosity of those who have contributed to our own fundraising initiatives.

“Re-opening the railway is a fitting tribute to the dogged determination of our volunteers and staff and allows us to continue providing a timeless experience for our hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.”

The grant forms part of the latest round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which has seen The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England allocate £44million to historic sites across England.

The funding for over 470 organisations from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is designed to support heritage organisations recover from the impacts of coronavirus.

It builds on more than £146m delivered to the sector in the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund last Autumn - which saw the East Lancashire Railway benefit from a £641,00 award.

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future.

"We are all looking forward to heritage organisations and other visitor attractions reopening. I am very pleased that we have been able to support DCMS in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”