THE Friends of Alton Station group has launched a £130,000 appeal to fund the first phase of a £500,000 project to save its Victorian wooden footbridge – believed to be the last of its kind on the national network.
The future of the 1892-built footbridge has looked bleak ever since Network Rail, working in partnership with South West Trains, installed a replacement with lifts in 2013.
So far, the Friends group, which was formed in 2014, has failed to get listed building protection for the footbridge, used by visitors to the Mid Hants Railway which has its eastern terminus at Alton.
The heritage line has distanced itself from the project because of the potential financial burden of upkeep, said a group spokesman.
However, the friends group recently received a supporting letter from Paul Maynard MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, saying: “My department believes that historical structures should be restored where practical, since they contribute to the unique identity of our railways.
“I recommend the Friends of Alton Station group carry on with their diligent approach and continue to co-operate with Network Rail.”
The friends spokesman added: “It is also pleasing to have Save Britain’s Heritage and our local MP on our side, so we do have supportive voices behind the scenes.
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