Gloucestershire

Work begins on railway line between Sharpness and Oldbury

Work has started on a new heritage steam railway line in Gloucestershire.

The Beaver line, which stands for Berkeley Vale Railway, will link tourist attractions and businesses between Sharpness and Oldbury Power Station.

The project is being led by Pro Active Vision, a community group made up of steam enthusiasts and local businesses.

Conservative MP for Stroud Neil Carmichael is helping them to secure community funding.

He hopes the investor-led project will benefit from a donation from the government's new Coastal Communities Fund.

He said: "This is an interesting way of thinking about developing a part of the constituency, and I think it should be given the appropriate support. Obviously there will be challenges but the overall objectives are absolutely perfect."

'Interesting idea'

The line will work both to transport the goods of local businesses and link tourists with local attractions such as Sharpness docks, Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Berkeley Castle and the Jenner Museum.

Mr Carmichael added: "Local people - a community group - are getting going with a really interesting idea and a business as well. Linking both of those together and making it possible for people to travel up and down on a steam train would be absolutely fantastic."

The land, which has been leased to Pro Active Vision by Network Rail, is being cleared across the four-mile wide area and track is being laid.

The group's David Heathcote said a lot of the infrastructure is already in place.

He said: "The branch line is already there and it's running, albeit not in brilliant condition, and it will take very slow trains. The rest of the infrastructure is very flat land with ease of being able to put a new light railway development down at a very, very low cost."

Mr Heathcote added that due to a surplus of rolling stock around the country and a lack of heritage lines, he is confident he can find trains and carriages to run on the line.

He said: "Very many people have rolling stock around the country - there are a lot of enthusiasts about. So there is a great deal of this rolling stock that doesn't get a chance to be operated in this heritage railway scenario."

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