'Staycations' boost Moors railway visitor numbers to record levels

ONE of Yorkshire's heritage railways has attracted a record number of visitors as more Britons have opted for cheaper holidays at home during the recession.

Figures released by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which runs from Pickering to Whitby, have revealed that the advent of the so-called "staycation" has helped boost visitor numbers to 350,000 during last year.

The weakened pound has also led to more people taking

their holidays in Britain owing to the poor exchange rate against foreign currencies.

The railway's latest visitor figures represent an 11 per

cent rise on 2008 and beat

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the previous record of 323,000 which was achieved during 2007.

The railway's general manager, Philip Benham, said: "We are obviously very pleased at these record trading results at the end of a year that started with great uncertainty over how the recession might affect us.

"Running a heritage railway... is becoming increasingly expensive as infrastructure, not to mention our historic locomotives and rolling stock, get ever older and more costly to maintain."

A 1m appeal was launched in March last year to pay for a replacement bridge and the restoration of an engine and ensure that the line, which contributes about 30m a year to the local economy, can continue to operate.