Historic railway hopes to get back on track
Llangollen Railway hopes to get back on track later this summer after a financial crisis which threatened to kill off the world-famous attraction.
On March 1 the railway’s Public Limited Company went into receivership with debts of around £350,000.
A number of the railway’s assets were sold off in an online auction.
But the separate Railway Trust, which remains completely solvent, has been involved in a fundraising campaign to buy as many of the assets as possible and get the railway running again.
Now, in a message to volunteers published by Llanblogger, the railway’s operations director Mike Williams says the battle has started to be successful.
He said: “The railway is now ours again!
“Our stations, yards, infrastructure and sufficient rolling stock are ready to rise back like the phoenix.
“But there is still much to do before we can start running much-needed, revenue-earning train services.
“The (Llangollen Railway Trust) LRT Board & Heads of Departments are currently working on new Safety Management System documentation, for the Office Rail Road’s approval.
“Plans are also in place to get the essential maintenance works completed which will then allow for Refresher Training & Competencies Testing.
“All of which are vital to the railway re-commencing revenue earning services. Currently we are looking at middle/late July to be operational again.
“Meanwhile Llangollen residents may have noticed movement within the coaches parked in the station. This shunting has extracted those coaches sold at auction which have found new owners.
“In summary, one restaurant buffet car went to the Spa Valley Railway at Tunbridge Wells and an open coach went to the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham.
“Two further open coaches went to the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam railway in Devon. Three coaches were saved for use on the LR, with an accessible coach acquired by the Trust and a pair by a private group which intends keeping them at Llangollen, one of which is a function coach, The Trust also acquired the Road Rail vehicle as used at Corwen, the 12 ton rail crane and the Lowmac wagon with hydraulic arm.
“These items are of use in essential track maintenance. The diesel shunter went to the Battlefield Line at Shackerstone, Leics.
“The new owners of the large 50 ton Cowans crane intend to keep it at Llangollen.”
It is understood that the railway trust is continuing with its discussions to win further financial backing for the attraction.
To this end, Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has called on the Welsh Government’s economy minister to help the railway.
He told the Shropshire Star: “This week I have written to the Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, to ask how the Welsh Government can support local efforts to get Llangollen Railway back up and running.
“It is one of numerous tourism businesses in Clwyd South to have been awarded Welsh Government funding in the past.”
As reported by Llanblogger, during a recent Senedd election visit to Llangollen, First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted to work with local people to come up with a plan that would allow the government to be part of the help the railway will need to get back up and running.