Llangollen Railway Trust has launched a funding appeal that could lead to bids being made to purchase assets of the railway company that is likely heading for administration or liquidation. Llangollen Railway, a major attraction in the Dee Valley, is said to put approximately £8.5 million into the local economy every year.
Earlier this month it was reported that the organisation’s directors had taken the “reluctant step” of inviting the bank to appoint a receiver of Llangollen Railway PLC. Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd have now issued an update to the situation, and a more detailed statement on both the PLC and the Trust itself.
The directors of Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd said, “We have greatly appreciated the extensive and sensitive support of the media when the impending demise of the PLC was announced. The coverage engendered much support from the general public for which the directors would like to express their gratitude. We have also received much support from local MP, Simon Baynes and AM, Mark Isherwood, Denbighshire County Council and Llangollen Town Council, all of which is much appreciated too.”
“Whilst the PLC will go into administration or liquidation shortly, the Trust remains fully solvent and debt-free, and the directors will be considering the options over the next few days and weeks. 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.”
The Trust does own 3 locomotives as well as passenger rolling stock which, together with the Railcar and Diesel Groups, will be able to operate after regulatory, legal and licensing matters have been resolved.
The assets of the PLC are now effectively available for sale to the highest bidder.
As a result the Trust say they need to raise as much money as possible for this purpose in 3 ways:
· Donations – which they are encouraging online via https://llangollenrailway.enthuse.com or via their Facebook page. Alternatively, supporters are invited to send cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd to The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN. The organisation say “contrary to some comments in social media, every donation will be for the benefit of the Trust”.
· Opportunity to acquire heritage assets – by bidding for the assets, such as rolling stock, individuals or groups have a unique opportunity to acquire heritage coaches and other items, although they say it is hoped that, following sale, the items would remain on the Railway.
· Thirdly, the opportunity to purchase one or more of the Trust’s steam locomotives – the Trust does not have the income or resources to own and maintain them. Sale of one or more, if completed quickly, would enable the Trust to be a more competitive bidder for the assets of the PLC. Again, it is hoped that the locomotives would remain on the Railway.
The Trust hope to be able to run trains again later this year but do not wish to give a timescale on that, saying it would be “purely speculative at the moment." They note that the volunteers building Corwen station have made “excellent progress”, albeit necessarily slowed by lockdown, and do anticipate being able to run to Corwen when the Railway reopens.
Shareholders of the PLC are reminded that any annual ticket allocation entitlements and lifetime passes will continue to be honoured. Shareholders would need to join the Trust if they are not members already.
The directors wrapped up their statement saying “We would like to take this opportunity to appeal for members and volunteers to join what is one of the most scenic lines in the heritage movement. It is the aim of the directors to refocus the Trust as an outward looking organisation centred on delivery of a high quality visitor experience, and strengthen partnerships with external agencies to help develop our business plan and articulate what is unique about our railway, its situation and how it complements Llangollen, Corwen and the Dee Valley,” commented new chairman, Pete Edwards. "This will require a significant culture change at board level as well as elsewhere, as we look at how we tie in with the cultural life of of the Dee Valley and how we can enhance the events and locations for which Llangollen and the surrounding area are already well known.”
Anyone wishing to contact the Railway, please do so by e-mail at email@example.com and details will be passed on as appropriate.