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Narrow Gauge Railway Tourism

Volume 742: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2023

2. Whether he has had discussions with the Welsh Government on promoting and supporting narrow gauge railway tourism in Wales. (900417)

Narrow gauge and heritage railways are important for our tourism sector. Although tourism is, of course, devolved, the UK Government have demonstrated their support for the sector. The Secretary of State saw that at first hand on 2 June, when he opened Corwen station, which was partly funded by the UK Government’s levelling-up fund.

First, I welcome my hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box; it is a pleasure to see her there.

A little while back, a friend of mine from Rouen, Thierry Fontenay, came over to Tywyn in Gwynedd. I asked myself, “How can I amuse him?” I took him on the Talyllyn railway, and we went from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn. He was over the moon—he took photographs of the engine and went on to the footplate. He told me that there are no narrow gauge railways like that, if at all, in France. What can we do to promote in Europe these wonderful narrow gauge railways that we have in Wales?

My hon. Friend is, of course, right: Wales’s narrow gauge railways are part of our unique tourism offer, so it is vital that they are marketed to the world. That is why Visit Britain works to ensure that Wales’s brand values are reflected in the broader GREAT campaign. Let me do Visit Britain and Visit Wales’s job for them and warmly invite Monsieur Fontenay to come and see the premier narrow gauge railway—the Brecon Mountain railway.