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Ipstones Parish Council agrees not to buy shares in Churnet Valley Railway following concerns over track being sold

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: September 04, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

The Churnet Valley Railway's Frogahll Station. Track has now been taken up south of Froghall which has led to concerns of parish councillors

The Churnet Valley Railway's Frogahll Station. Track has now been taken up south of Froghall which has led to concerns of parish councillors

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A PARISH council has refused to buy any more shares in a heritage railway following fears that several miles of track have been taken up and sold.

Churnet Valley Railway (CVR) is appealing to shareholders to help raise £76,500 over the next four weeks to enable it to purchase the track which runs from Leekbrook to Ipstones Station, from from Moorlands City Railways (MCR).

The railway has already managed to purchase 2.75 miles of the Cauldon track at a value of £86,25, following the sale of rail track south of Froghall.

In a letter to Ipstones Parish Council on behalf of the CVR board, chairman Anthony Hancock, said: "The railway operational programme has for the last few years included running trains over the Cauldon line.

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"These services continue to be very popular and generate significant revenue for the company.

"Moorlands and City Railway own the Cauldon Branch and do not charge when CVR operate trains over it. MCR's intention is to reconnect the stone quarry and adjacent cement works, but as the operating companies are currently subject to a Government competition review, which may result in the cement works being sold, progress with the line may be some time away.

"As a result, MCR would normally remove the track as the first stage of a phased replacement so that new, heavy duty track is installed for future freight.

"Both companies have recognised the need, if possible, to retain the existing track for CVR use prior to its replacement.

"A further £76,500 is needed to complete the purchase of the remainder of the track to Ipstones, which will secure a total of 5.2 miles for CVR use.

"The sale does not involve the land holdings of the branch itself, which will remain in MCR ownership."

Ipstones Parish Council presently owns shares in Churnet Valley Railway.

Following a debate on Mr Hancock's invitation to purchase more shares, Councillor Linda Malyon said: "More track has now been taken up south of Froghall to raise £76,000.

"The line from Ipstones Station to Cauldon has also been taken up.

"How can keeping on taking up rail track be justified?

"Moorlands City Railway is also involved with the Churnet Valley Railway and I feel we cannot support buying any more shares at this time.

"We as a parish can only support the Churnet Valley Railway.

"They seem to be selling off all the track, so where is all the money going?"

Councillor John Barks added : "A lot of track is being taken up and sold for scrap."

Councillors agreed not to go ahead with buying anymore shares in the company.

Earlier this year MCR announced that it had also taken up three miles of track which ran from Ipstones Station to Cauldon.

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2 comments

  • CAULDONMAN  |  September 05 2014, 10:45PM

    Ipstones Parish Council sneeze and the world trembles! Perhaps a more constructive approach would be for the Parish Council to actually write to CVR seeking clarification on what the intentions of CVR/M&CR are relating to the lifted track before commenting on the shareholder invitation. You don't need a degree in economics to realise that M&CR must have invested a significant sum of money in both purchasing the line and clearing vegetation from the long abandoned track. The track south of Froghall and East to Cauldon must have been pretty well shot after 25 years left to its own devices and unsafe for frequent or regular heavy traffic. Both CVR and M&CRs long term plans for expansion to Leek/Cauldon/Alton coincided with the worsed economic crash in 70 years which must have seriously affected their ability to raise funds through both the previous public share appeal and private borrowing. In order to extend the line into Leek (which has significant local political and popular support) and realise some of their investment M&CR seem to be, metaphorically speaking, approaching every family member and collecting every bit of change from down the back of the sofa. Of course we don't really know if this is true or not, because neither the Parish Council, or the Leek Post and Times, have actually asked the parties concerned.

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  • 5952Cogan  |  September 05 2014, 5:13PM

    So a Councillor deciding not to support a Railway's Internal Appeal for Shareholders, on the basis they don't fully understand the economics is a big news story? The letter was for ALL shareholders, not just IPC. The track CVR has sold has been used to finance the first section of trackwork that has been bought. When this section comes to be replaced, the CVR will retain ownership of the trackwork to use as they desire (either as trackwork for use elsewhere, or as scrap to raise funds for use elsewhere). The Appeal is to raise the remaining finance to secure the medium term future of the Ipstones section, and guarantee that the Heritage services will continue along this section.

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