North Yorkshire Moors Railway and Heritage Railway Association - response to Rishi Sunak’s announcement in last week's daily coronavirus briefing.

Chris Price, General Manager at North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), and Vice-Chair of Heritage Railway Association (HRA) responds to Wednesday’s (8/4/20) announcement from Downing Street regarding its £750 million funding for frontline charities and argues that it’s not enough, and many charities risk collapse if further help isn’t provided.

“In last Wednesday’s briefing, Rishi Sunak acknowledged multiple pleas for help from the charity sector and announced the government’s offer of £750 million in funding. Whilst 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. 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 Exec of the Heritage Railway Association furthers, “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 £400million 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.”


For further information please contact a member of the team at CAB Campaign on 01789 338568 or email [email protected]

Editors’ Notes:

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is an award-winning charitable trust that carries 300,000 unique passengers every year. It is Britain’s most popular heritage railway and is one of the best visitor attractions in the North East.

The NYMR trust relies heavily on donations and the work of its many volunteers. The 180-year old railway needs to raise £1million by 2022 so its railway bridges and its 50-100-year-old vehicles can remain viable.

  • The NYMR cares for operating and developing the railway it owns from Pickering to Grosmont.
  • The heritage railway operates over Network Rail from Grosmont to Whitby.
  • The charity provides a high quality, safe and authentic evocation of the steam age for the public.
  • The NYMR is an Educational Charitable Trust. Providing education for all ages.
  • The railway is a fully accredited museum.