North Yorkshire Moors Railway chiefs revealed today that a record number of people flocked to its annual war event at the weekend – an estimated 15,000 visitors.

They said more than 8,000 people travelled to the 17th Railway At War spectacle using the railway, which runs from Pickering to Whitby, via Levisham, Newton Dale Halt, Goathland and Grosmont. Railway spokesman Phil Bustard said this year’s three-day event generated £120,000 income, compared with about £100,000 in 2008. He said that last year, the occasion drew about 12,000 visitors.

The event tries to re-create the Home Front by turning the clocks back to 1943 in a bid to provide a poignant reminder of what life was like for thousands of railwaymen and women. Hundreds of visitors can be seen in civilian and military clothing from the period, and at Pickering, there is a large parade through the town.

Railway general manager Philip Benham said: “This has to be one of the best events of the year for local tourism.

“The growing interest year on year in this weekend is amazing. This year was particularly special as we remember the outbreak of war 70 years ago.

“There is a serious message throughout the event, and we are particularly keen to remember the sacrifices made by the many thousands of railwaymen and women who served on the Home Front.

“But people also come for an experience, and to have fun – we can certainly deliver that Mr Bustard revealed that work to renew Bridge 30 – a vital piece of infrastructure on the railway – would start “in earnest” between Christmas and the New Year. He said he anticipated the £650,000 project would be finished by March.