The Heritage Railway Association is bringing its Spring conference to the North Wales coast in March with Railway 200, museum best practice, a focus on level crossings and, in an election year, the impact and relevance of parliamentarians on heritage rail.
The two-day event on March 5/6 is expected to bring together hundreds of heritage rail sector people to discuss the challenges they are facing at the start of the 2024 season.
Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: “I think the sector is entering the year with a little more confidence than we’ve had at any time since Covid. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some major challenges that are either being faced now, or looming on the horizon.
“The regulatory and safety landscape that the sector operates in is always evolving. The expectations placed upon us to safeguard and protect our heritage is ever increasing. And ensuring that we have the resources and finances in the right place at the right time to deliver it all never gets easier.
“This conference will be tackling all of those things and more. We all know it can be difficult to get away from your desk or workshop when you’re focused on running a railway. But this is an event that will genuinely make a difference and help us all navigate a route through the difficulties.”
Speakers already confirmed for the conference include Vintage Trains’ Chairman Michael Whitehouse, the Bluebell Railway’ Business Development Director Jon Beardmore, and Chris Austin from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail. The event is also set to feature another popular panel session featuring some of the leading figures in the sector, both long-standing and new to the sector.
The conference will take place on the seafront at Venue Cymru, a large purpose-built events venue. Heritage Railway Association conferences have grown substantially in recent years, with the last event in Newcastle seeing a sell-out 200 strong attendance. The choice of Venue Cymru sees a larger capacity once again.
While in Llandudno, delegates will also have the opportunity to visit the town’s own unique heritage rail operation – the Great Orme Tramway. An organised trip to Middle Station on the rope hauled tramway is part of the planned activities during the conference.
“It’s great to be able to bring this event to Wales, certainly the first time in its current format,” Mr Oates added. “We’re here to serve the whole of the UK so we’re committed to doing everything we can to make these events as accessible as possible for our members by varying the locations we use.”
Ticket sales for the HRA Spring Conference are open now on the Heritage Railway Association website, with substantial discounts for delegates from HRA member organisations.