CHARLIE EVANS, Welsh Conservative candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd at the Senedd Election has warned that steam railways must be considered when future legislation is brought forward to eliminate the use of coal.

Dwyfor Meirionnydd is the constituency with the largest concentration of heritage railways anywhere in the United Kingdom and contributes millions of pounds annually to the local economy.

Charlie Evans said, “Heritage railways are the backbone of Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s tourism economy. They tell the stories of local history to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come through the gate, ensuring Snowdonia is talked about across the British Isles and the world too. Their visitors often stay for longer holidays meaning more money is spent in local businesses throughout the week. And they have a huge role to play in educating local people too given the gaps in the national curriculum in teaching local history.

“Consulting with some of the management teams across the constituency, it is clear there is a fear that as we roll back the use of coal to meet Wales’ energy needs, future legislation could damage heritage railways. So whatever environmental legislation is passed in the future, I pledge as Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s Member of the Senedd to scrutinise it with heritage railways at the forefront of my mind, regardless of which party is in government. Heritage railways must always be allowed to burn coal to run the steam trains. The steam element is the unique selling point of heritage railways.

“I am also concerned about Gwynedd Council’s seemingly sceptical tone of tourism. I hope that their rebalancing strategy does not extend to undermining our fantastic heritage railways by restricting the number of visitors that come through the doors. The Council say they want a visitor economy that works for the people of Gwynedd. Make no mistake, whether culturally or economically, the steam railways undoubtedly do.”

Mr Evans has announced a five-point plan that he will work on as Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s MS, working with Welsh Government and the local authority.

  1. No more lockdowns mandating the closure of heritage railways.
  2. A local curriculum that tells the history of the heritage railways to Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s school pupils.
  3. A proactive Council that communicates the benefits of heritage railway tourism to local people.
  4. Coal production protected for the use of steam railways.
  5. Welsh Government resources directed to support any TalyllynFfestiniog & Welsh HighlandCorris, Fairbourne and Bala Lake Railway bids for future heritage funding applications.