A MULTI-MILLION pound grant has been awarded to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) to help secure its future.

The award-winning attraction takes more than 350,000 passengers across the moors each year and has now secured £4.6m from the National Lottery.

The funding will go towards NYMR’s Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey, a £9.2m sustainability project aimed at securing the future of the railway.

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John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism said: “The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is part of this country’s rich railway heritage and this £4.6 million investment, thanks to National Lottery players, will help preserve it for generations to come.

“The railway welcomes more passengers than any other heritage railway in the world and is a fantastic way to see Yorkshire’s stunning scenery.”

The historic route consists of 18-miles of track and more than 30 bridges, representing a challenge for the trustees to keep everything in top working order.

The 180-year old railway already invests around £1m annually but there is only so much the fare box can generate and much more is needed for the bridges and the 50 to 100-year-old vehicles to remain viable.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway Trust chairman, John Bailey, said: “Fifty years ago our founders had the vision and determination to re-open the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

“Today we face a challenge of similar scale.

“We are extremely grateful for the support from the National Lottery.

“With its backing, we can plan confidently both the implementation of essential projects and our appeal for the balance of funds required.

“This should ensure that fifty years hence, people will still be learning from and enjoying the experience of steam across the Moors.”

The NYMR is owned and operated by a 10,000-member community-based charitable trust.

It employs more than 100 people, depends on more than 1,000 volunteers and contributes more than £30m per annum to the economy of the moors and coast.

To deliver the sustainable investment programme, the NYMR must raise matching funds of £4.6m.

With generous member bequests and anticipation to secure more grants, the NYMR will need to raise around £2.5m from members, passengers and the public over the next five years.