North Yorkshire Moors Railway 'could go under' if emergency funding not secured
The General Manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway has warned that the picturesque attraction could go under unless the Government steps in to offer vital assistance.
Chris Price, General Manager at the NYMR and Vice-Chairman of Heritage Railway Association (HRA) was speaking in response to an announcement from Downing Street regarding its £750m funding for frontline charities - and argues it’s not enough.
“In the briefing, Rishi Sunak acknowledged multiple pleas for help from the charity sector and announced the government’s offer of £750 million in funding," said Mr Price.
"While these measures are undoubtedly welcomed, especially by those frontline charities facing an overwhelming upsurge in requests for help due to COVID-19’s impact, it’s sadly not enough.
“At the end of March, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) predicted that the charity sector would lose £3.7bn of income over the proceeding 12 weeks.
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"As far as the heritage rail industry is concerned, we’re not eligible for any of the funding mentioned by Mr Sumak.
"Here at NYMR we’ve already had to launch a crisis appeal and turn to members of the public for financial help, and we’re not alone.
"The UK’s heritage railways are being hit incredibly and perhaps irrevocably hard by the pandemic and almost all have now had to create individual fundraising appeals to try and secure their future livelihoods.
“Many heritage tourist attractions are suffering cash flow problems, especially when they’ve been closed for the winter season, a time traditionally used for essential repair and maintenance work despite no revenue being generated.
"There are huge, very real fears that many charities like ours, could go under if vital assistance isn’t provided by the government.
"Our futures are far from certain, especially as the period of lockdown has no end date in sight at present.
“Here at NYMR, we’re fully in support of the #EveryDayCounts appeal to help save our sector and stand united alongside other charities in the hope that by creating a unified, powerful plea for help, the Government will provide it.”
Steve Oates, Chief Executive of the Heritage Railway Association, added: “Heritage railways and tramways are custodians of an important part of the nation’s history.
"They contribute significantly to the UK’s cultural and tourism sectors, and they bring enjoyment and learning to millions of visitors, plus wellbeing and skills development to thousands of volunteers.
“They provide 4,000 jobs nationally, and are major contributors to local and regional economies adding some £400m of economic impact to the nation’s visitor economy.
“But many heritage railways and tramways only have sufficient resources to survive a few weeks.
"We call on the Chancellor to urgently acknowledge that the measures implemented to combat Covid-19 are having a devastating impact on heritage rail, putting jobs, businesses and the nation’s heritage at risk.
"We urge him to allocate emergency funding to protect those businesses and ensure this part of the charitable sector survives for future generations to learn-from and enjoy.”
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