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Funding gap hits solar Volks Railway project
A bid to transform a historic attraction into the world’s first solar powered railway has come up short – leaving council chiefs red-faced.
Brighton and Hove City Council was ready to sign off on allocating £1.5 million to the Volks Railway at a key town hall meeting today.
However, in a swift u-turn, the document outlining the decision was withdrawn at late notice.
The Argus understands this is because the funding has not been awarded as expected.
Speaking at last night’s policy and resources committee Geoffrey Theobald said: “Can I ask what has happened to the Volks Railway report as I was under the impression that the bid has not been successful?”
In response, Paula Murray, the council’s head of culture and economy, said an announcement on the funding was under embargo until Monday.
She added there were possible opportunities for the local authority to bid for future funding for the scheme.
Plans to turn it into the world’s first solar powered electric railway were unveiled in October.
This would have seen the installation of five “solar trees” in Madeira Drive to help power the attraction and the introduction of a new all-weather train.
Money is also needed to build new sheds as Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate is increasingly concerned by the ability of the railway to continue operating safely.
The council has allocated £245,000 towards the costs but more is required for the wide-ranging plan.
The news comes just weeks after the local authority signed off a 30% price increase for the attraction.
They will come into force from April.
Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “After this announcement the Greens must now rethink their recent fare hike.
A spokesman for the council said: “Brighton and Hove City Council is committed to securing funding which could transform the Volk’s railway and preserve it for future generations.
“Unfortunately the council bid for £1.47m from the Coastal Communities Fund to help fund a project to create the world’s first solar powered electric railway on the seafront has been unsuccessful and the council will be exploring other funding options.”
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