Shropshire Star

Railway trust furious at decision to seize customers' money

Wedding deposits and advance ticket sales for Llangollen's steam railway are to be seized by administrators dealing with the insolvency of the management arm of the tourist attraction.

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The Llangollen Railway

Llangollen Railway Trust members say they are beyond furious at the decision that £30,000 of customer money placed in a client trust account will have to go to creditors, and say the money belongs to loyal customers.

The trust says the money was placed in the account following insolvency advice and says it it now talking with lawyers about an appeal.

It includes the deposits for four weddings that were due to have taken place before the pandemic meant their postponement.

Llangollen Railway plc, the management arm of the railway, went into administration earlier this year with £350,000 of debts.

However the charitable trust remained solvent and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the railway back on the right track. It is hoping to be able to re-open next month.

Phil Freeth from the railway trust said news that the fund would have to go to creditors had come as a complete shock.

"It is an outrageous decision," he said.

"This is money that our customers have paid in advance for tickets and things like our popular driver experience days and our Santa specials. There are also deposits for four weddings in the account.

"We took insolvency advice and were told that putting the money in the trust would protect it. We were really pleased because protecting our customers was really important to us.

"It will be our customers that will be losing out and it is not acceptable."

He said that there were 312 individual customers involved but say many of their transactions had involved multiple tickets, for instance for taking the whole family on the train.

"The Llangollen railway did everything it could to protect that money and it is being whipped away. What will our customers think of us?"

Mr Freeth said that the kick in the teeth doubly hurt because the auction of assets of the Plc achieved double the money that the administrators had hoped to recoup.

"In the scheme of the insolvency this trust account is a very small sum, but for us it is our customers' money and it should be retained for them."

"We are taking legal advice but we fear the administrators may, legally, be on safe ground.

"However, we believe that morally this is reprehensible."

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