The suspension of steam-hauled passenger trains on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is to continue until at least June 5.
Announcing the further closure following a promised review, W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer said that despite the great ‘stay at home’ efforts by local communities, Covid-19 is still very much with us in Mid Wales.
“For the safety of our visitors, we agree with the Welsh Government shutdown precautions and believe that we should not be operating trains at present,” Charles added. “Like the government, we’ll review the situation again at the beginning of June.”
While most of the W&LLR’s few paid staff are on furlough, the safety of the many volunteers the line relies on remains equally important. Only essential maintenance and safety work, together with security surveillance, is taking place on site at present, and always with appropriate distancing provisions.
This will include the operation of works trains where necessary, so it remains important that the public do not trespass on the railway line during the closure; all the station facilities are also closed.
The railway charity’s finances are significantly affected by the lack of visitor revenue and all involved with the W&LLR have been delighted by the response to the ‘Tracks to Recovery’ appeal launched to try and alleviate some of the losses.
Donations to the appeal have passed £40,000 this week, which volunteer and trustee Oliver Edwards described as “a fantastic result – a great contribution towards covering our unavoidable expenses for the first couple of months of the shutdown and protecting our reserves to prepare for our reopening, which we hope will be soon”.
Donations to the appeal continue to be welcomed online at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/9557#!/DonationDetails. However, for anyone able to make a really generous donation, a cheque to the railway, payable to W&LLR Preservation Co. Ltd, posted to The Station, Llanfair Caereinion SY21 0SF, will be cheaper to process. By either route, UK income tax payers who tick the Gift Aid box will add 25 per cent to the donation that the railway receives.
Two other fundraising projects have been launched this week. A special souvenir package featuring visiting Austrian locomotive ‘Zillertal’ is available through the railway’s online shop, as is a special book of historic W&LLR photographs produced by well-known rail publisher Mainline & Maritime.
Links to both products are on the railway’s website at www.wllr.org.uk and every sale will produce a donation to the appeal. The website will also soon feature a selection of special books available for mail-order.
In normal times, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway runs heritage trains, almost all steam-hauled, for eight miles through a lovely rural landscape between the farming community of Llanfair Caereinion and the market town of Welshpool, along the Banwy River and over the formidable Golfa Bank. Its many volunteers look forward to welcoming visitors again as soon as it is safe to do so.