HERITAGE railway volunteers have lifted track from the old Didcot power station that will help them in their bid to return to Cricklade.

Swindon and Cricklade Railway had been donated several panels of track removed from the western side by the new owners of the site, the Clowes Group and while members were collecting them they spotted more rails still in place.

So they steamed ahead and asked if they could have it. As a result they given the rest of the track on the site.

A delighted press officer Adrian Thompson said: “We are eternally grateful for the generous donation of all the materials. It is a chance of a lifetime being given all this equipment for our use.”

He explained: “The track was originally a large double-track loop with a coal unloading stage about half way round. Trains could enter, unload and exit without needing to stop.”

A small but dedicated team of volunteers was at the Didcot-A site for around six months, working most weekends and many week days in all weathers.

The work included cutting around 2km of continuously welded rails into 60 foot lengths and removing the e-clips before gathering and stacking them for transport.

The remaining track was already in 60ft lengths but needed all its joining fishplates removed. Then it had to be unscrewed from the sleepers. There were also five sets of points, all broken down into transportable sizes.

Adrian added: “ This donation of rail and infrastructure is a real boost to our plan to re-join Swindon to Cricklade again. There is more than enough rail now on site now to allow us to reach our goal and also to provide stocks for future maintenance.”

Spurred on by the donation the railway is aiming to reinstate the South Meadow farm crossing just north of the current railhead.

Then the plan is to carry on track laying towards the next obstacle, Fairfield Bridge, which is about a mile south of Cricklade. It was destroyed when the railway closed and discussions are taking place to find the best way to tackle the challenge.

"We have been in touch with the local landowners and farmers, many of whom have expressed their support to our outline proposals, while Cricklade Town Council have agreed to support our aim to reach Cricklade and will include it in their forthcoming neighbourhood plan."

The railway needs help from businesses with the cost of transporting the rails from Didcot.

Contact Bill Poling at billpo@virginmedia.com or call 01793 722594 for details.