RAIL campaigners who have launched an emergency appeal for £100,000 to help keep trains running in Wensleydale are a third of the way towards their target.

The Wensleydale Railway Association asked "financial angels" among its members to raise the sum by the end of July because running costs which are outstripping income from tickets and other sales have created a revenue shortfall.

The annual meeting of the WRA in Bedale on Saturday was told it was now more vital than ever to make the railway pay its way by establishing a link with the national network at Northallerton.

One member told the meeting: "Without Northallerton, the line is doomed to be a tourist railway and that is not what I invested in."

WRA secretary Ruth Annison said on Wednesday there had been a "heartwarming" response among members to the £100,000 appeal.

She said: "There was always going to be a race against time to build up passenger revenues to match costs, especially as the railway does not have any public subsidy."

WRA chairman Keith Cameron told the meeting railway staff costs had been reduced and the insurance bill had been cut to a third of its original level.

He said the line had to be run as a community railway with leisure interests, but a temporary platform at Romanby, establishing a connection to Northallerton with a bus link into the town, had been delayed by problems in acquiring land.

Discussions were were continuing and plans were in hand to relaunch a share issue to help fund the development. Help might also be sought from external funding sources.

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