The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway ran a historic ‘Parliamentary Train’ to Llanfair Caereinion on Friday 17th July, as members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail (APPGHR) visited the popular mid-Wales tourist line.
The Group saw stations and workshops and met staff and volunteers of the railway, which attracts many visitors to Wales and has links with other railways around the world. They were joined by the Leader of Powys County Council, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, while the group also included former Education Secretary Baroness Morgan of Cotes, who set up the APPGHR in 2011 and who is a director of the Great Central Railway, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is also President of the Heritage Railway Association (HRA), HRA CEO Steve Oates and deputy chairman Chris Price.
At Llanfair Caereinion Lord Faulkner presented the HRA award that he sponsors for Young Volunteer of the Year to Oliver Edwards, a W&LLR volunteer and Trustee. Lord Faulkner said: “the future of heritage railways lies in the hands of young volunteers like Oliver and they bring so much to their railways in terms of enthusiasm, drive and understanding of Britain’s unique railway heritage.”
The W&LLR also received a highly commended certificate in the internal communications category of the HRA Awards, for its digital members’ newsletter ‘The Earl’ – this newsletter proved vital during the Covid pandemic, keeping members in touch with the line while they were unable to visit.
Chair of the APPGHR Liz Saville Roberts MP (Dwyfor Meirionydd) said: “The 12 Great Little Trains of Wales are a main attraction for visitors to North Wales. They also provide valuable jobs and skills training for young people, so it is great to visit the railway today and hear at first hand how they have built this successful business and survived the Covid pandemic.”
Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams lives in Llanfair and was proud to show fellow Parliamentarians the railway which is a major tourist attraction in his constituency. He said; “The railway is much loved by the local community here and is a magnet for visitors to this very lovely part of Wales – with so many holidaying in Britain, we all hope this will be a good year for our heritage railways and for tourism.”
W&LLR chairman Strve Clews was delighted to welcome the APPGHR to the line. “We are proud that for what was effectively its first visit post Covid, the Group came to us, as we are not one of the larger lines in the UK heritage railway movement,” Steve said.
He added; “We welcomed the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing railway preservation in today’s environment, but mainly to celebrate the many achievements of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway both locally and on the wider stage.”