A PETITION to ‘save Poole Park Railway’ has received almost six thousand signatures in less than 24 hours.

Supporters of the miniature rail are rallying behind its owner, Chris Bullen, after it was announced the attraction will close while the council seeks bidders for it.

Both a petition and a Facebook page have been set up to help Mr Bullen raise the money needed to submit a tender so he can continue running the railway.

Mr Bullen has been told he needs to dismantle the track while the tender process goes on, and the next operator would need to rebuild it to meet health and safety requirements, with new fencing erected around it. Petition organisers are concerned about the practicality of the new measures.

In order to successfully tender for the contract, Mr Bullen said he would need to raise £200,000, which includes the cost to replace the railway and its other facilities.

He said he was “humbled” by the amount of support he has received since news about the railway’s future was announced.

He has been running the miniature railway since 2004 and is the third operator since the attraction opened in 1949.

“It has become apparent that people want me to continue the railway, and that is very humbling,” he said.

“After a meeting with the council, I was prepared to walk away from the railway. However, since the news has broken I have been very surprised by the country-wide support. The railway attracts people from all generations.

“A huge amount of public offerings have been made and, as a result, a working committee and petition is happening.”

Mr Bullen is intending to organise a public meeting where supporters of the miniature railway can put forward their ideas for the future of the attraction. He said he would like to secure a 22-year lease so he can “give the railway back to the people of Poole” when it is up.

“That would be a nice conclusion,” he said, adding: “I don’t want to be the person who is known as the man who gave up Poole Park Railway. I’ve had people telling me ‘let’s fight this’ and open it up to public debate.”

“There will be a subsequent public meeting where we will invite people from the community to have their say. We need the people of Poole to offer their ideas, wishes, and financial support. Then we will need to confront the council with what the people want.”

To sign the petition, visit you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-poole-park-railway