If it can put together a compelling enough case for external help with its current financial plight, its “very likely” that Llangollen Railway could be running again later this year.
That was the positive message from railway Trust chairman Peter Edwards when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Wales yesterday morning.
As llanblogger has been reporting, on March 1 the board of Llangollen Railway PLC asked its bank to call in receivers after it became insolvent to the tune of about £350,000 and could not legally continue trading.
A firm of liquidators was called in which immediately began the process of selling off the assets of the world-famous heritage attraction.
However, the railway's Trust, which is quite separate from the PLC and completely solvent, immediately declared its intention of taking over the running of the line and buying up as many of the assets as it could afford.
This rescue plan is dependent upon grants from outside bodies, such as Denbighshire County Council or the Welsh Government, and also the amount raised by a public appeal which yesterday stood at a healthy £43,000-plus.
In his radio interview with reporter Rob Thomas the Trust board’s new chairman Peter Edwards explained that the receivership had resulted from the PLC losing a “significant” amount of money over the past three years, with closure of the line due to Covid-19 coming as “the final straw”.
Liabilities, he said, were in excess of £250,000 but the Trust board was putting together a proposal to re-focus the railway’s vision and put it into a position where it could ask for financial assistance from external sources.
Asked by the reporter if the railway was likely to be carrying passengers again this year, Mr Edwards said: “Depending on us being able to put together a compelling enough proposal, later on this year it is very likely we will be running trains.”
It has been estimated that Llangollen Railway contributes as much as £8m to the wider tourism economy.
And Chris Frost, chair of North Wales Tourism, said the whole of the town’s economy – it’s shops, restaurants and other businesses - relies upon it.
He added: “It is imperative that strategic partners come together and find the funding to keep Llangollen Railway on track.”
The railway has around 200 volunteers and Aled Rhys, who gives his time as an unpaid signalman, told the interviewer that when they heard about the line’s financial crisis many of the volunteers were in tears.
But he added: “We have faith in the Trust board and we’re sure they will turn things around.”