Dreams to reopen the historic railway line between Rowsley and Bakewell are on track to become a reality after 40 years of work.
Representatives from Peak Rail and Derbyshire County Council have been ‘ironing out’ issues of competing proposals in recent weeks. Now it is hoped that shares in the heritage railway will be on sale to members of the public by mid-2016.
A planning application for the project is likely to be submitted by the end of the year.
Paul Tomlinson, development director at Peak Rail, said: “This is really great news, I think some people believed we would never get this far.
“We have had to resolve a number of issues with the county council, but we have a clear timescale to work to now.”
Paul said that the completed railway could generate an additional £20 million for the Dales and Peaks economy.
He said: “It’s an expensive job to complete the project, we are looking at a multi-million pound investment.
“But based on other heritage railways, they typically generate three times whatever investment is put into them.”
He added: “The North Yorkshire Moors heritage railway carries in excess of 300,000 passengers a year and is generating £15 million to that economy.
“People using the railway are staying in hotels, eating in pubs and cafes, visiting other tourist attractions, so there are far-reaching benefits.
“This will be a fantastic asset to our area.”
Paul said that, once completed, the railway would require around 100 full-time members of staff.
He said: “With increased footfall in the area, I would say that many more jobs will be created.”
There has been issues in the past with the ongoing plans for a new Peak District cycle trail.
But Paul said the railway will coexist with cyclists and walkers, who will also be using the trail.
It is hoped that one day the railway line will be opened all the way from Matlock to Buxton.
Paul said: “It’s been 40 years since Peak Rail began work on the heritage railway.
“We’ve had a lot of ups-and-downs over the years and it’s amazing that the dream is now becoming a reality.”