A major investment has helped open up a Mid Wales tourist attraction to less-able visitors.
Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) celebrated the completion of the line’s ‘Disability First’ project at Llanfair Caereinion Station following a £42,500 grant awarded in 2016.
The High Sheriff of Powys, David Lloyd Peate, cut a symbolic barrier ribbon across the entrance to one of the carriages to mark the occasion.
The improvements include access to trains for wheelchair-bound passengers such as specialist wheelchair lifts, which are based at its stations in Llanfair Caereinion and Welshpool, and balcony extensions to two carriages for larger wheelchairs.
The heritage railway line says it has seen a “significant increase” in the number of people visiting who would not otherwise have been able to travel.
“It has not just been wheelchair users who have welcomed the changes,” general manager Charles Spencer said.
“Many less able-bodied visitors, those using walkers or canes for example and who otherwise would struggle with the carriage steps, have been able to stand on the lifts and rise to carriage level in safety and comfort.”
At the cutting of the ribbon ceremony, the High Sheriff of Powys said the project was “already a huge success”.
“I have seen the smiles and delight on the faces of those who have already used the lifts, including the families of wheelchair users as they are being elevated onto the carriages,” Mr Peate said.
“This has been a big investment for the W&LLR which will open up new experiences for so many people, and I congratulate the railway for taking the initiative.”
Mr Spencer paid tribute to the W&LLR members who ensured the project went ahead, including the line’s appeals director Iain McLean who made the successful grant application, and Philip Crook who oversaw the design and modification of the carriages.
“This was a project properly managed and delivered to plan – it will enable more visitors to travel in comfort with us, which we are delighted about, while the railway will also benefit as a result,” Mr Spencer added.