The COVID-19 virus has brought a halt to the volunteer operated Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway’s (C&PRR) passenger trains for the first time in its 30 year history.
The C&PRR owes its existence to the Chinnor Cement Works which vanished a decade ago and was replaced with housing. The line had been open for 140 years by the time these houses were being built with regular passenger services ending in 1957. However, the line itself remained open for coal and cement traffic to and from the cement works until 1990 when the C&PRR took ownership.
It was an interesting experience to watch the Cement works being demolished and the land being built on immediately abutting onto the railway. The only clues left today are the chalk pits and a kiln which was protected from demolition as a nod to the area’s history.
Much of the detritus from the demolished works was crushed and used as hardcore resulting in several temporary mini-mountains of rubble appearing around the site!
The houses were built very close to the railway yard and it appears some people did not realise, or were not informed there was a working railway literally on their doorstep! Many neighbours tell us they enjoy the sight and sound of the remaining local industrial history in the form of steam trains serving the village but some were somewhat surprised that a railway was present!
After a gap of 61 years, these trains again provided a public transport service to and from Princes Risborough on around 75 days a year. There are regular local users who benefit from a special residents’ cheap fare offer.
Resumption of passenger operations is now being planned and risk assessed but because of Covid-19, the volunteer run railway has suffered a disastrous loss of income and is using up its cash reserves at an alarming rate.
Much work and inspections have to be carried out in the next few weeks to make sure the train and track is fit for public services for the first time since January. The only trains operating have been for Network Rail graduates, for safety of the line works and for inspection trains operating with volunteers working to Government guidelines.
The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway really needs your financial support in these challenging and uncertain times. The Railway costs £6000 a month irrespective of running trains or not and we have now lost over £55,000 in profits this year with more losses looming on the horizon.
No matter how large or small, every donation will be welcomed and it's easy to contribute on our donations page - not only will it help us maintain the Railway, but to reopen it as soon as we are allowed and the safety checks have been completed.