PREPARATIONS for the re-opening of the East Lancashire Railway are being hampered by continuing instances of fly-tipping and vandalism along the track.

Those running the heritage railway line have been forced to run regular clean up patrols, which have seen volunteers remove extensive amounts of rubbish dumped along the heritage railway’s 12 miles of tracks that stretch from Heywood in Greater Manchester to Rawtenstall.

The patrols have collected six wagon loads of rubbish - including items as large as sofas - and it has also had the knock-on effect of preventing the ELR’s army of dedicated volunteers from focusing on their main priority - preparing the railway for its planned reopening on May 1.

Mike Kelly, Chairman of the ELR, said “It’s really frustrating to see rubbish casually dumped on the railway like this.

“The upsurge in anti-social behaviour has put further strain on our already fragile finances as we have been forced to collect and remove all this waste we have to run special services and hire skips which costs the railway several thousands of pounds we cannot afford to spend.”

To support the railway as it prepares to reopen, the public can donate to the ELR Support Fund, or purchase a gift voucher or advance booking ticket for a journey from May 1.