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Blaenavon's Heritage Railway's volunteers celebrate a record-breaking year.

Blue steam engine Empress charges up a green bank with our carmine and cream liveried carriages as a member of the locomotive crew looks on
Blaenavon's Heritage Railway celebrates its busiest year on record.

The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway (Blaenavon's Heritage Railway) celebrated a record-breaking year in 2021, welcoming over 16,000 visitors despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

After an extremely challenging 2020, 2021 saw a drastic recovery in visitor numbers, with 16,333 passengers recorded throughout the year. In total, the figure represented both a 19% increase on 2019's total and the Railway's busiest year since opening in 1983. The success was despite operating on fewer days compared to 2019 (65 vs 78) and ongoing COVID-19 measures that saw both a reduced specials events offering and restrictions that included pre-booking only and reduced capacity for much of the season.

Celebrating the success, Alex Hinshelwood, the Railway's Operations Manager remarked:

'After an extremely challenging 2020 when we were only able to run on 13 days, 2021 was a different story. It was our best year since opening in 1983 and our volunteers would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that came to travel on our little railway'

The Railway was also a repeat star on TV screens in 2021, featuring on BBC Wales News, ITV Wales's Coast and Country and Channel 5's World's Most Scenic Railway Journeys. Further regular appearances in various printed outlets such as local media and the railway press also helped increase its profile.

As the Railway goes forward into 2022, its volunteers hope that the far more encouraging public health situation will enable its success to grow even further. Beyond an expanded special events offering, it is intended to begin introducing new experiences that will help attract visitors for many years to come, allowing the Railway to develop into an attraction that both its members and the local community can be proud of.

Published: 17:30GMT 06/03/2022

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