The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway will return to operating trains over its full length on selected days in September, following a successful reopening in August in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The major Mid Wales tourist attraction resumed services on August 1, five months later than its originally scheduled start of the 2020 season in April, and running over half of the eight-mile line between Llanfair Caereinion and Castle Caereinion.
These services will continue on five days a week throughout September and the line will add special trains all the way to its Welshpool Raven Square terminus on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting on September 9.
Visitors to the scenic heritage attraction will be able once again to experience the full 16-mile journey and enjoy the steam locomotive working hard up the 1 in 29 Golfa bank out of Welshpool, one of the steepest gradients in the British Isles.
This section of the railway has been closed since lockdown in March, but volunteers have worked hard to finish the ‘winter’ maintenance work and bring the line back into service.
“We are delighted that so many visitors enjoyed our trips to Castle Caereinion and back during August, with most of our trains selling out,” said the railway’s general manager Charles Spencer.
“Our September service continues to offer the family-friendly, one-hour return journey to Castle, while we hope enthusiasts will be pleased that we have answered their requests for the full two-hour journey to Welshpool again.”
The special trips to Welshpool will be subject to a modest minimum fare to ensure costs of the longer journey are covered, but a discounted family rate will be available and the child fare is unchanged.
Some spaces on trains to Castle Caereinion continue to be earmarked for advance W&LLR member bookings but initially there will be no free member travel available on the trains to Welshpool.
Advance booking is strongly recommended on all services as capacity is limited to provide social distancing. Visitors can turn up at Llanfair Caereinion in the hope of buying a ticket on the day, but many trains are sold out before the day they run.
All departures are from Llanfair Caereinion for return journeys only and there will be no vehicle access to Raven Square station. Full details and online booking for Castle trains are on the website at www.wllr.org.uk. To book for the specials to Welshpool, call the railway’s office on 01938 810441 from Tuesday to Thursday and at weekends, 9am to 4.30pm.
The Covid-19 measures that have worked well over the past month of operating will continue to be applied. A strict one-way system remains in operation at Llanfair station. The railway’s shop will be open and hot and cold refreshments are available to enjoy in the marquee, take on the train or take away.
Everyone attending the railway, visitors and staff, are required to wear face coverings and all trains will be cleaned between trips. A host of further cleaning measures have been carried out and there will be hand sanitisers widely available.
“All of us at the railway have been both delighted at the number of visitors that have come to ride our trains in August, and gratified at their appreciation of the Covid-19 measures we have taken to keep them safe without spoiling their day out,” added Charles.
“We hope our enhanced services in September will please both families and enthusiasts.”
Plans are in the works for continued train services in October and railway volunteers are also planning how to host Santa safely for his ever popular December visits. Watch the website for announcements.