Faced with heavy financial losses and increased overheads the KDRA Board had to ask for help from funding agencies. Bridge inspections were due, sleepers had to be changed, a farm level crossing needed repair, and so did several small culvert bridges. Work on a second track to the engineering shed was still waiting to be done. In the event The National Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund has come generously to our rescue providing much needed help with these pressing tasks. It meant that we could proceed with much of our planned programme of track maintenance and bridge inspections.
A railway without its trains operating is a sad state of affairs! This grant has meant that the KDR did not fall far behind, and can start 2021 on a much sounder basis than it would have done without this help from the National Heritage Lottery. By the autumn we had the chance to engage rail contractors to take on the heavy work of sleeper changing and culvert bridge repair. Vegetation clearance was undertaken by a professional contractor as most of the railway’s volunteers were still staying at home. Various bridges were inspected and maintenance reports issued so that we were able to plan further remedial works where required. Work on the second track through the platform to the engineering shed could also proceed with help from a contractor with a JCB, and railway ballast was ordered to top up depleted stock. The grant also enabled a Rail Road Vehicle to be purchased from another Heritage Railway. It replaces our old one which had to be scrapped as it was no longer fit for purpose.
Covid-19 compliance has made it necessary to invest in anti-viral disinfecting materials and to this end the KDRA was able to invest in sanitising pods, a steam cleaner and ozone sterilisation units for the trains and both stations; some smaller items such as masks, gloves and wipes were also obtained
Throughout it all the National Heritage Lottery administrators have been most approachable and helpful, being on hand to answer queries about criteria, changes, delays. Delays in delivering this grant’s objectives were inevitable, as appointments and deliveries had to be kept on hold because of Covid-19, however they have been very understanding of the practical difficulties. On the other hand not running scheduled trains has meant that there have been windows of opportunity for works to take place, albeit with fewer volunteers. Despite being a difficult and unpredictable year and against our expectations, 2020 has turned out to be the year that saw us tackle planned work and gain us plant, tools, equipment and a new welfare room. We couldn’t have done this without this generous grant for which we are extremely grateful to the National Heritage Lottery and its players.