Full steam ahead for share issue

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The Independent Online
STEAM railways have an almost mystical attraction for the enthusiast. The Great Central - winner of this year's Railway World award for the best British independent steam railway - has launched a share issue, which could be an inspired gift this Christmas, writes Paul Gosling.

The Loughborough to Leicester line was part of the last main line built in this country, completed in 1898. The Great Central has been reopened for steam trains since the early 1970s, and it is hoping to raise pounds 2m for expansion. A new but traditional station at Leicester North, the provision of double track on some of the 17-mile length, and passing loops and sidings are also to be built.

Although 2,500 requests for prospectuses have been received it is expected that the share issue will be open for about two years. Those who hold shares at the year-end will be able to take advantage of free journeys next year, based on the number of 25p shares held. A holder of 400 shares will be entitled to two second-class return tickets, while a holder of 40,000 shares will be eligible for two free lifetime tickets, two luxury dining train tickets, plus a buffet for 12 people on a luxury carriage.

Although in the last financial year the company made a profit of more than pounds 200,000, it is not a share purchase to be made for the sake of dividends, as the prospectus makes clear that profits are to be re-invested. The solicitor for the flotation said the shares are primarily an investment for the enthusiast.

Copies of the prospectus can be obtained by calling 0509 230726.

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