Delight as heritage trains return to Llangollen

Trains are back on the lines of the Llangollen Railway this weekend amid news that it has been given a grant of almost £150,000.

The Llangollen Railway
The Llangollen Railway

Board members of the Llangollen Railway Trust say they were encouraged by the support given to the resumption of services on July 9 when a limited service of heritage diesel rail cars operated from Llangollen to Berwyn in a weekend 'shakedown exercise’ to ensure the operational arrangements went to plan.

More than 450 passengers enjoyed the hourly shuttle service, bringing in a much-needed £3,000 for the railway.

Trust chairman Pete Edwards said that in addition, many visitors made some generous donations to support the railway’s start-up expenses.

“Given the short notice available to announce the railway was able to reopen, we are pleased to have welcomed so many people to Llangollen. Many came from within our 50-mile radius catchment area, but others from further afield, all anxious to show their support.

"This is our first step in the reopening of the line through to Glyndyfrwdy when various essential engineering works are completed, hopefully during August when steam engines may return.

Trains continue Fridays to Sundays from July 16 with an hourly service from Llangollen starting at 11am, through to 4pm. Revised Welsh Government Covid restrictions will apply and masks must be worn on the trains. A 15-minute stopover at Berwyn allows for a visit to the historic Chain Bridge, or a longer walk to the famous Horseshoe Falls with a return on a later train.

Operations director Mike Williams said: “The railway’s team of volunteers have pulled out all the stops and made great efforts in all departments to return the stations, trains and track to operational condition after so long a shunt down period.”

The trust is celebrating news that the railway has been awarded a grant of £143,290 from the Wales Cultural Recovery Fund Phase 2. The purpose of the funding is to assist with salary and overhead costs both ahead of and during the initial week of reopening.

Phil Freeth, finance director, said: "We are delighted to have been given this grant. It enables us to be confident of being able to employ staff for certain essential positions, which we hope will include at least some staff previously employed by the PLC if they haven't already got positions elsewhere. Crucially, the award secures the railway's immediate future in uncertain times, certainly into 2022, and beyond if visitor numbers hold up."

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