PREPARATIONS for the reopening of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) are being hampered by continuing instances of fly-tipping and vandalism along the track.

Those running the line have been forced to run regular clean-up patrols, which have seen volunteers remove extensive amounts of rubbish dumped along the 12 miles of tracks from Heywood to Rawtenstall through Bury.

Patrols have collected six wagonloads of rubbish, including sofas, and it has also prevented ELR volunteers from focusing on their main priority - preparing the railway for its planned reopening on May 1.

Mike Kelly, ELR chairman, 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.