The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway has announced that they have been given an £89,000 grant by the Welsh Government to carry out a wide range of improvements.
Charging points for electric vehicles will be at the top of the list of improvements set to be carried out by the narrow gauge railway.
The funding has been awarded to the railway, which runs from Welshpool Raven Square to Llanfair Caereinion, by the Tourism Amenity Investment Support (TAIS) scheme and is part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
The improvements will meet a variety of needs, but a common theme across them all is better access and attractions for visitors.
At Llanfair Caereinion, two electric vehicle charging points will be made available for visitors to the attraction, who at that point, will be almost exactly halfway between central Shropshire and the Welsh Coast.
The electric charging points will complement the range of environmentally friendly improvements already installed at the railway, which has included the installation of solar panels, full recycling facilities, the elimination of single-use plastics in the tearoom, LED light conversion and composting.
Cyfronydd Station will also benefit from the funding. The WLLR will reinstate a siding to allow the stabling of special trains or heritage goods trains. They will also reconstruct a cattle dock that once stood on the site, as a marker of the original function of a rural light railway. A historic grounded brake van from the London & North Western Railway will also be restored as a shelter.
Sylfaen Halt will see the installation of a new train loop to allow trains to pass each other, an improved passenger shelter and information boards.
At its Welshpool terminus, the railway has already commission shed extensions that will double the space available to protect carriages, wagons and other large artefacts. The grant will enable the sheds to be suitable for public access and to provide lighting and security.
The Welsh language will be prominent across the improvement programme, with all new signage provided in the bilingual form to emphasise the railway’s roots in the community.
W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer said:
“Our mandate as a charity is to preserve and to operate our 116-year-old railway as a demonstration of how it supported the local agricultural community which opened it in 1903”
“The volunteers who will be working on all these projects and contributing some of their own funds are very excited about the benefits the TAIS grant will bring, as we welcome more visitors each year.”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister, Lord Elis-Thomas, said:
“This scheme is an excellent way for us to assist the tourism sector to make the improvements to local facilities and amenities, and I’ve seen the improvements made in many areas with the help of this funding over the past year.
“Facilities such as footpaths toilets, signage, car parking are often only noticed when the provision is lacking or not up to scratch – which shows that they are an important part of the experience that people have of Wales. This is also an investment by the public sector in amenities for those who live in the area and will benefit locals and visitors alike. These projects also make it easier for local residents and visitors to become more active in Wales’ natural environment.”
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