Volunteers who run the South Tynedale Railway have been thrown a cash lifeline as they fight to prevent the permanent closure of the line.
The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society is to receive funding of £84,300 from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, with the cash set to be used to help meet the costs of maintenance and rebuilding the steam locomotives which are a unique feature of the line, which runs between Alston and the village of Slaggyford.
It will also help the volunteers prepare for the 2021 running season, which is due to start in the spring.
No trains have run on the line this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding to existing cash pressure on the society.
The chairman of the society’s trustees, David Granath, said: “This funding gives us hope that we can once again welcome visitors back to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ride through the lovely South Tyne Valley on our trains.
“We believe that our 90-minute return trip with cafes and car parking at each end of the line is the perfect package for a family day out and for the railway enthusiast.
“Anyone who would like to join one of our volunteer teams carrying out track maintenance, engineering or running trains when we are open can contact us.”
South Tynedale Railway Ltd, which runs the line, went into administration last month, with the loss of five jobs.
The preservation society is a separate organisation, which has run and developed the line since 1983.