North West Wales

Fairbourne Railway near Barmouth fights job losses

A narrow gauge steam railway in Gwynedd has started a "crisis fund" to try to avoid job losses.

Managers at the Fairbourne Railway, near Barmouth, say it is currently losing £40,000 a year.

The debt used to be covered by donations from railway enthusiast Prof Tony Atkinson but he died a few months ago.

Mangers say they hope to avoid making redundancies but one member of staff has already left.

They hope other enthusiasts and supporters will step in to try to keep the railway operating.

Railway manager Chris Price said: "We are a tourist business run on a not for profit basis and, until recently, our shortcomings have been underwritten by Prof Tony Atkinson.

"However, he died a few months ago and the shortcomings of running a loss making business have become obvious very quickly."

The railway has cancelled one Halloween and two Christmas events.

Two people work on the railway full time, and a further two part-time staff work there all year round, rising to eight part-time staff in the summer.

The line, which is two miles long (3.2km), also relies on volunteers.

Mr Price added: "We'd like to try and avoid staff redundancies in the long term but we can't guarantee anything at this stage.

"We're looking at changing the organisation so we can be more sustainable in the future.

End of the line

"The railway could run profitably tomorrow, but we'd have to cut back our operating days, have fewer full time staff and look at closing the cafe at the Barmouth Ferry end of the line.

"But that would have a knock on effect on the local economy, especially if we ran on fewer days.

"The ferry operators would be hit if we didn't run as often."

Mr Price said that two donors had come forward to keep the railway running in its present form for a year and there had been a good response to appeals so far.

"For the moment, the railway can carry on as it is, and the early signs are that the generosity is out there in the community, but we're not celebrating yet," he said.

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