TWO of North Wales top tourist attractions have received a £250,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) grant to help cope with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Festiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway will share the funds which will help with the cost of adapting carriages for social distancing and the loss of revenue as it was unable to open at the beginning of the season.

Fitting the carriages for social distancing meant their capacity to carry passengers was reduced, which also reduced potential revenue.

Denbighshire Free Press: A train departs Porthmadog A train departs Porthmadog

In addition the NLHF has also been very supportive in continuing to support the railway's project to secure the future of the historic railway works site at Boston Lodge, near Porthmadog, by conserving the remaining 19th century buildings to ensure they can continue to function effective in the 21st century.

The railways were forced to suspend operations at the end of March to comply with lock down measures.

This coincided with what would have normally been the start of the peak season for the railways, and had a devastating effect upon income.

The Welsh Highland Railway, which runs between Caernarfon and Porthmadog was able to restart operations with a limited service on 18 August.

The Festiniog Railway, which runs between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, started a limited service on 20 July.

Initially the Welsh Highland Railway ran a daily return service from Caernarfon as far as Beddgelert with one train a day.

The Festiniog ran as far as Tan-y-Bwlch from Porthmadog with a number of trains each day, but has subsequently extended its service as far Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Paul Lewin, general manager, of both railways said: “Our railways are instantly recognisable as a leading tourist attraction but our work to conserve our railway of national and indeed international importance is less readily understood.

"Our projects with National Lottery Heritage Fund are working towards ensuring our heritage is understood by a wider audience for generations to come as well as ensuring our staff have the skills to conserve, operate and interpret the railway.

Covid brought all our efforts to a rapid and potentially very damaging halt.

The additional support of NLHF during this emergency means that we can form a plan that sees our business survive the immediate challenges and go on to flourish once more in the future.”

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways combined are the largest tourist railway, and it is claimed the most successful, in Wales bringing benefits in excess of £25m per annum to the local community.

It is a non profit making organisation owned by a charitable trust.

The railways are of deep historical significance and custodian of heritage assets ranging from dry stone structures and buildings through to historic rolling stock of international significance.