Bid to reopen Sharpness railway line
COMMUNITY leaders are supporting a bid for up to £400,000 in lottery cash to help reopen the Sharpness branch railway line.
Tourism bosses and councillors in the Berkeley Vale are among those backing inventor David Heathcote and his team's attempt to get Big Lottery money via a TV contest.
His Pro-Active Vision Ltd aims to restore the four and a half miles of track for visitors to attractions including Berkeley Castle and for freight trains to Sharpness Docks.
"The chosen name for the railway is Berkeley Vale Railway or, less formally, The Beaver Line," Mr Heathcote said.
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"We are in a watery place and it's a play on the letters BeaVeR."
He added: "We expect to see the Vale of Berkeley become a centre for excellence in all ways, rather than continue watching its slow but proven decline.
"It is a mission to us and we intend to see the area become an example of just how a community working together can rise from the ashes of unemployment and be a place sought after to visit, be proud of to live in and a catalyst of resurrection power."
The line from Berkeley Heath, via Berkeley, to Sharpness Docks last carried passengers in November 1964 and goods trains stopped running in January 1966. It also connects to the Bristol to Birmingham main line.
Pro-Active Vision proposes running steam engines to draw visitors as well as diesel locos for commercial uses. These could include carrying coal to a potential new coal-fired power station in Berkeley which is, as yet, a pipedream.
Tourism officers at Stroud District Council welcomed the proposed line reopening.
"Not only would it encourage tourists to the district's attractions and businesses but also it would help ease volumes of traffic on the roads," a spokeswoman said.
Berkeley councillor John Stanton said he thought the scheme was an "excellent concept".
Pro-Active Vision has already been awarded £10,000 to work up its plans and will hear in May if it has got into the final of the Big Lottery Village SOS scheme. Finalists will then feature in a six-part series on BBC One later this year.