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'Rollercoaster of emotions' as volunteers determined to see Llangollen Railway back on track

Volunteers on Llangollen's heritage railway say that the last few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, with news of the financial straits that have seen the operating arm of the railway taken over by administrators.

Volunteers Mike Plant and John Mason having a well earned break at Corwen Station
Volunteers Mike Plant and John Mason having a well earned break at Corwen Station

A dedicated group of volunteers continue to work to complete the Corwen Station, that had been due to be opened on March 1, despite the uncertainty.

They say they have to stay positive about the future and, now armed with letters allowed them to travel to Corwen during lockdown, about 14 that are able have returned to the site.

The chairman of the Llangollen Heritage Railway Trust - a different arm to Llangollen Railway PLC which called in the receiver - this week paid tribute to the work of the volunteers.

Peter Edwards said: "Their commitment is amazing and what they have done here at Corwen Station is just jaw dropping. For many the railway has been their life's work."

Peter Edwards, chairman of Llangollen Railway Trust

Some of the volunteers have given up their time to the railway for decades, some for 40 years and more. Some now bring their grown-up children as volunteers, although the average age is an incredible 67.

One of the 'newer recruits' is Phil Coles, a volunteer for the past seven years.

His skills as an electrician have been invaluable for the Corwen Station project but he also, when the railway is running, volunteers as a station master.

"The worry about the future of the railway coming on top of the lockdown has left us tired and sometimes frustrated," he said.

Empty platform at Corwen Station

"We have all been through a real rollercoaster of emotions. One day you can see the future clearly ahead in the shape of a train coming into the station full of passengers. But then there will be a knock back and you go down again."

However Phil Freeth is, like many others, more positive.

"We have had to roll with the punches this year but overall we are very positive about the future," he said.

"We are all working together for the same outcome, the reopening of the railway. We all care very much about the railway and volunteers, and the community have raised so much money for it."

"The future will see everyone, volunteers, employees, all pulling together in the same direction."

Llangollen Railway

Although administrators have taken over the PLC, the trust stresses that it remains fully solvent and debt-free, and the directors will be considering the options over the next few days and weeks.

Mr Edwards said: "The first task is to preserve the line and then to bid for such assets of the PLC as limited resources will permit. Directors and key volunteers are compiling a list of assets they consider essential for the continued running of the railway."

He said that supporters of the railway could help with donations which would go to the Trust.

"The easiest way to donate is perhaps online at llangollenrailway.enthuse.com and click the Donate button, or via our Facebook page. For taxpayers, the Railway can apply for 25 per cent Gift Aid. Alternatively, supporters are invited to send cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd to The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN."

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