Wales News

Llanfair Plugs into Electric Car Charging

At a ceremony held today the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway officially launched its newly-installed fast-charging points for electric vehicles (EVs).

The two charging points are part of a wide-ranging programme of improvements being undertaken on the popular mid-Wales heritage railway, thanks to an £89,000 grant made to the line by the Welsh Government under the Tourism Amenity Investment Support (TAIS) scheme. This is part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

The charging points are likely to prove popular with EV users, as they are located approximately midway between the urban West Midlands and the Welsh coast – a route with few public fast-charge points and virtually none of the fast 22kW/hr units. Their installation illustrates the growing use of more environmentally-friendly electric vehicles and the need to provide recharging facilities for them. 

Guests at the launch event included Cllr Viola Evans of Llanfair Town Council, who observed the recharging of an e-Niro electric car kindly provided for the event by Kia UK. Among W&LLR representatives present was member Jo Truby, a great advocate of electric cars who uses a Renault Zoe EV as her daily transport.

The charging points will complement a recently completed environmental programme at the railway, which has included the installation of solar panels, setting up full recycling facilities, the elimination of single-use plastics in the tearoom, LED light conversion and composting.

The TAIS funding will also permit the reinstatement of trackwork at Cyfronydd Station and Sylfaen halt, building of a replica of the original cattle dock and restoration of a historic London & North Western Railway grounded brake van at Cyfronydd, and the at Welshpool Raven Square fitting out of newly extended sheds for public access and for use as a special events venue.

The Welsh language will be prominent across the improvement programme, with all-new signage provided in bilingual form to emphasise the railway’s roots in the community.

W&LLR press officer Andrew Charman, who when not volunteering for the railway is a professional motoring journalist, said that providing fast-charging points for EVs is becoming increasingly important.
 
“The way people travel by road is changing – sales of electric and hybrid vehicles grew 20 per cent in 2018 in a market that overall dropped seven per cent, and many manufacturers are committed to all their cars having some form of electric propulsion by the middle of the next decade,” Andrew said.
 
“However the public infrastructure to charge these vehicles is still lagging behind, particularly in mid-Wales. By installing these points we will benefiting both the railway and its customers.”    
 
Llanfair Town Council Chairman Cllr Kate Roberts congratulated the railway on the launch of the electric car charging points, commenting; “They will be an excellent addition to what is already a first-class visitor attraction in the town – we wish the W&LLR every success now and in the future.” 
 
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, described the TAIS scheme as an excellent way for Government to assist the tourism sector to make improvements to local facilities and amenities. “I’ve seen the improvements made in many areas with the help of this funding over the past year,” he said.  
 
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway operates on more than 150 days of the year, between Easter and the end of October, during the February school half-term holiday and popular ‘Santa Special’ trains in December. 
 
The railway has recently earned much praise for a programme to improve access to its trains for passengers using wheelchairs or having other mobility issues. A £42,500 grant from the UK Government allowed the purchase of wheelchair lifts for the two terminus stations and refurbishment of two bogie carriages, allowing them to take larger modern wheelchairs. 
 
More details of the railway can be found at www.wllr.org.uk or by calling 01938 810441.
 
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