VOLUNTEERS on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway celebrated with a cup of tea on Saturday, December 23, when the last steel rails were laid to connect to Broadway station with Cheltenham Racecourse, 15 miles to the south.

Shortly afterwards, the first train, comprising the permanent way department’s ballast and engineering wagons, was carefully propelled into the platforms, alongside the brand-new station building.

This was the first train to stop at Broadway station since British Railways closed this and other stations on the line, on March 7, 1960. Broadway station itself was demolished in November 1963.

Volunteers then discharged ballast from the wagons on to the track.

A delighted Chris Bristow, finance director of the volunteer-run railway, issued an announcement to the railway’s supporters, saying: “Christmas came early for our railway today.

“Our permanent way gang put in place the last panel of track today and then their ballast train crossed Station Road bridge and slipped into Broadway station.

“What an achievement for today’s 900-plus volunteers and also for all those who had the vision to recreate this railway back in 1983.”

The work carried out was thanks to the huge success of the Broadway: The Last Mile share offer, launched by the railway’s president Pete Waterman in 2016.

The offer raised more than £1.3 million which has enabled materials including brand new rail to be purchased, as well to allow work on the station building to be finished.

Broadway station is on target to open to the public on March 30, 2018.