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Llanfair Line to remain closed

 
Created on 23/06/2020 @ 10:58
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The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway will not operate any passenger services until at least August this year.

Announcing the further closure following the latest review of the situation, W&LLR Chairman, Steve Clews, said that the railway would begin working on its reactivation plan from the start of July, responding to likely further easing of lockdown measures in Wales.

“Wales continues to ease the lockdown in a careful manner, trailing the measures by the UK government by between one and three weeks,” Steve said.

“The latest notification of the planned easing has brought some clarity and cheer to the Tourism sector. Importantly it looks as though the five-mile ‘stay local’ travel limit will be removed early in July and some self-contained holiday accommodation will open in mid-July.”

The line’s paid staff are all currently furloughed, with the railway being looked after by suitably qualified local volunteers. However, the line said an extensive and detailed plan is being prepared to enable the reopening of the line when it is possible to do so, with the priority on safety of visitors, staff and volunteers.

While the line remains closed people are being urged to stay away from the route and not use it as a footpath. Works trains have been operating to carry out essential roles.

Meanwhile, there has been a tremendous response to the ‘Tracks to Recovery’ appeal, set up to help alleviate some of the significant losses resulting from having no revenue during the closure period. The appeal has raised more than £50,000, a significant aid while the trains are not running.

Having helped the railway navigate the closure period, the appeal has now been repurposed to ensure that one of the original 1902-built locomotives, ‘The Earl’, is able to haul trains again in 2021.

In mid 2019, the locomotive was sent for its mandatory 10-year overhaul at the Vale of Rheidol Railway in Aberystwyth, allowing the W&LLR’s own workshop team to tackle other pressing maintenance and restoration work.

Overhaul of ‘The Earl’ was planned to be funded out of existing revenue and donations, including a large legacy of uncommitted funds. However, the closure of more than four months resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic will mean that the railway will face much greater demands on its existing funds over the coming winter, leaving it needing to raise £95,000 to complete the overhaul of the locomotive.

The ‘Keep the Earl on Track’ appeal has already raised more than £30,000 and donations to the fundraising appeal continue to be welcomed at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/9557#!/DonationDetails 

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