PLANS to reopen the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) have been stopped in their tracks due to the new coronavirus restrictions.

The popular heritage attraction was due to welcome visitors tomorrow for the first time since the start of lockdown.

However, after new rules were introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Greater Manchester and areas of Lancashire, the ELR says it has taken the 'painful decision' to delay the restarting of passenger trains until next weekend.

The attraction's bosses cited that staff, volunteer and passenger safety are its priority.

Mike Kelly, ELR Chairman said: “It’s with great sadness that we’ve had to make the decision to temporarily pause our reopening plans for this weekend.

“We were very much looking forward to welcoming passengers back to travel on the railway but in the interest of safety and ensuring we comply with all regulations we’ve decided to postpone until next weekend when we have clearer guidance from the Government."

Passengers who have pre-booked tickets for this weekend will be contacted to transfer their reservation to an alternative date.

Over the next week, the ELR says it will review its position and will issue another update on future plans inline with any further Government guidance and changes to restrictions.

In the meantime, the ELR's two pubs ­— The Trackside at Bury's Bolton Street Station and Buffer Stops at Rawtenstall ­— remain open.

However, the new rules state that only people from the same household or in bubbles can visit together.

Mr Kelly added: “I understand how disappointing this will be for many and I want to thank everyone for their continued patience and support.

"I hope to see you all again very soon.”