Lewin takes important HRA role 

The longest serving general manager in heritage rail has been appointed Vice Chair of the Heritage Railway Association.  

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways General Manager Paul Lewin took on the role during mid-April, replacing Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society President (and former North Yorkshire Moors Railway Chief Executive) Chris Price.  

Paul has been running the FfWHR, the longest heritage railway in the UK, for 20 years. He joined the railway at a critical point with the major expansion plans to more than double the size of the railway coinciding with financial difficulties in the existing operating company. Since then, the FfWHR business has gone from a turnover of £1.9m making a £300k loss, to a £6m business returning an annual surplus in the range £100-300k consistently for two decades. The railway, whilst employing more than 100 staff, is also supported by over 500 regular volunteers. 

Mr Lewin was elected to the Board of the Heritage Railway Association at its Annual General Meeting in Llandudno during March and was appointed Vice Chair at the following Board meeting in April. This is the second time that Paul has served on the board of the trade body for the heritage rail sector. His predecessor in the Vice Chair role, Chris Price, remains a director of the HRA.   

Heritage Railway Association Chair: Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, said: “Paul has a huge amount of experience and knowledge. He is one of the most respected figures in heritage rail today, so having him as Vice Chair will be of huge benefit to the HRA and the whole sector. 

“It’s been a pleasure working with Chris and I’m very pleased that he remains part of the Board. Even though his day job is now in a different part of the visitor economy, he retains his passion and commitment to the sector.”  

Paul Lewin said: “Our Nation’s heritage railways and tramways are facing both financial challenges and generational change. More than ever there is the need to work together and the HRA is the focal point for that. It is a pleasure to be appointed to this post at a pivotal time for the movement.” 

Other recent changes to the HRA Board include the appointment of North Yorkshire Moors Railway Group Finance Director and Talyllyn Railway Chief Financial Officer, Garry Mumford. A keen railway enthusiast since an early age, Garry started volunteering on the Talyllyn Railway in 1992, Garry is now one of the most experienced finance professionals in the heritage railway sector. 

Former HRA Chairman and Member of the European Parliament, Brian Simpson retired at the March AGM. Longstanding director and ex-West Somerset Railway Managing Director, Mark Smith also retired at the meeting. 

Lord Hendy added: “The work that Brian and Mark put in on behalf of the whole heritage rail world during their long service on the HRA Board will not be forgotten. Their contributions were significant and I want to thank them for their support.”