INVESTORS are being invited to get behind a low-carbon rail service to connect villagers with the national rail network.

Lightweight Community Transport (LCT) is aiming to run a single carriage ‘railcar’ from Medstead and Four Marks near Alresford to Alton.

From there, passengers can pick up train services right into the heart of London.

LCT needs to find £87,000 to start the service and has already secured two thirds of the money.

It hopes to find the rest through investors, who would receive a share of the profits.

The firm already has several national backers, but hopes to find extra investors living nearby.

LCT’s railcar is designed with a flywheel that stores energy allowing the use of a smaller engine to minimise emissions.

However, initial trials of the vehicle on sections of the Watercress Line earlier this year uncovered reliability issues.

LCT is now overhauling the railcar in Birmingham with new parts in an effort to get the scheme back on track.

Taunton-based LCT, which is backed by Hampshire County Council and GOCO Co-operative, had hoped to start the service in April.

It now plans to run a few services in December, followed by a regular timetable in the New Year.

LCT chief executive Alex Lawrie said: “We are very keen to enable local people who will be using the service to have a stake in the railcar – to be part owners, if you like.

“For this reason we are offering a minimum investment of just £100, rather than the usual £500, to people who are residents of Alresford, Medstead, Four Marks and Alton.”

He added: “The trial in January told us two things: firstly, that the vehicle looked good and suited the job and secondly, that a prototype or demonstration vehicle just wasn't going to be reliable enough for public service.

“Since then, we have been working hard to supply a vehicle that, under the same bodywork as before, is a brand new railcar.”

He added that investors would have a say in how the service along the Watercress Line is run, along with receiving a share of the profits.

For more details about the LCT scheme visit or write to LCT, The Hot House, Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AX.