The arrival of Porthcawl’s all-new road train attraction has been celebrated with an official launch in Rest Bay.
The seasonal service which runs between Sandy Bay and Rest Bay takes in key stops such as Coney Pleasure Beach, Porthcawl harbour, the town centre, the Grand Pavilion and the Rest Bay Watersports Centre.
At the official launch on Tuesday 17 August, Emmaus South Wales, the charity and social enterprise behind the new road train, named the land train Lucie in honour of the co-founder of Emmaus.
Jemma Wray, Chief Executive of Emmaus South Wales, said: “We’re delighted to be providing this new attraction and look forward to welcoming visitors and local residents in Porthcawl on board.
“Many will have heard of the founder of Emmaus, Abbé Pierre, but little is heard about Lucie Coutaz, the co-founder.
“Lucie was an active member of the resistance during the Second World War, and later dedicated her life to Emmaus, using her organisational prowess and leadership to grow the movement internationally. Abbé Pierre once described her as: ‘…the one, without whom, nothing would have been possible.
“Our land train is therefore named after Lucie in honour of her vital contribution to the Emmaus movement.”
Alongside members of the Emmaus South Wales team, the leader Cllr Huw David attended the launch with the council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Cllr Charles Smith, and the Mayor of Porthcawl, Cllr Tracy Hill.
Attendees enjoyed a round-trip train ride from Rest Bay to Sandy Bay, and refreshments, with the Mayor of Porthcawl Town Council cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of the tourist attraction.
The new road train has been introduced using £11,453 which has been secured from EU funding via Welsh Government as part of the Visit Wales Tourist Attractor Destinations scheme.
Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Cllr Charles Smith said: “It is great to see the new Porthcawl road train adding to the tourism offer in the area providing a fun and convenient way of accessing both Sandy Bay and Rest Bay as well as the harbour and town centre.
“Emmaus South Wales which is operating and providing the service has a track record of supporting people to improve their circumstances, find new accommodation, gain new skills and explore opportunities for fresh employment. As well as having strong links with the area, they can offer their considerable experience across a broad range of business operations, and can draw on the resources of the wider Emmaus UK community.
“Tourism is, of course, of immense value to the local economy, and official figures reveal that it contributed more than £362 million towards Bridgend County Borough in 2019 alone.
“With more than 3.72 million visitors recorded for that year, tourism also supports over 4,000 full-time jobs throughout the area.
“The council and its partners want to develop tourism in Porthcawl in a sustainable way, and ensure that it can make an increasing contribution to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the town. The new land train will help to support this aim.
“Earlier this summer, First Cymru launched a new open-top bus in Porthcawl in partnership with the local authority and Trecco Bay Holiday Park, giving people the chance to experience the coastline from a different perspective, with beautiful views on the top deck, while also improving accessibility to areas across the town.
“With the council’s ongoing plans for the development of the Salt Lake and Esplanade areas, as well as the proposals for Cosy Corner, there’s a lot to be excited about in the area.”
Porthcawl’s new road train has three carriages, one of which is wheelchair accessible, and the operator Emmaus South Wales plans to open a ticket office and waiting area soon at its store on New Road, Porthcawl which is near the start of the road train’s route.
Completing six stops across a four-mile round trip, the service is open seven days a week from 10am to 4.30pm (11am to 3.30pm on Sundays). A round trip takes around 45 minutes.
Ticket purchases can be made on board and are via contactless payment only. For adults, it is £5 single or £8 return while for children it is £3 single or £6 return. For a family of two adults and two children, it is £10 single and £15 return. For bus pass holders, carers or children under five years, tickets are free.
Image credit: Bridgend County Borough Council