Find out what’s been happening on the Talyllyn Railway during lockdown, as we prepare to re-open on 1 August.
While the railway was sleeping
The sudden COVID19 Coronavirus lockdown at the end of March, just before we were due to restart running trains, came as a bit of a shock to us all. Since then, we’ve kept the locos in hibernation, the carriages safely locked up and the railway premises closed. Most of the staff were furloughed with Stuart Williams (General Manager) and Chris Smith (Engineering Manager) kept on to keep things ticking over. You can see what they got up to on our fabulous ‘Weekly Walkabouts’ on our YouTube channel.
Mid Wales was blessed with the most amazing warm, sunny weather for weeks. The daffodils flowered and faded. The bluebells took over the line in peace and quiet. The lambs in the lineside fields grew bigger with no engine whistles to send them bounding away from the growing hedgerows. The Rhydyronen donkeys cropped the lineside grass and made it into the national news. Nature began re-claiming the line – starting to look like it did in the 1950s when we took over. The Fathew Valley was eerily silent without engine whistles echoing off the hillsides.
Things didn’t stop completely though. Our online shop has remained open and had a lot of custom. Our fabulous volunteers running the Virtual Visit Appeal have raised over £105,000 through donations, on-line auctions and even a #TitfieldTweetalong hosted by TV presenter Tim Dunn – an incredible amount for which we thank people from the bottom of our hearts.
Work on our historic Corris coach has progressed, as our friends at Stanegate continue the re-build work. Head to the Corris Coach Rebuilding Appeal Facebook page for the latest updates and photos.
Other staff and volunteers have been working hard on creating safe, socially distant operating practices for when we re-open. Council and other committees have embraced modern technology with regular on-line meetings. On social media, volunteers from far and wide have stayed connected by sharing Talyllyn memories, photos and banter. Our Young Members Group has held regular Zoom quizzes and catch-ups. The Talyllyn Family may have been apart but we’ve certainly stayed together.
Restarting outdoor work
The time came for us to begin to re-awaken a couple of weeks ago. Outdoor staff were allowed limited work strimming the line and track maintenance. Lockdown rules started being relaxed, allowing limited outside lineside volunteering.
First three photos: Outdoor staff back at work for track maintenance. Photos by Chris Palmer.
Second row: Cynfal after the weed-killing train (photo Karen Willans) and volunteers strimming (photos Allan Black).