Two women have been appointed to share the general manager’s role at Tallyllyn Railway, the world’s first preserved steam railway, at Tywyn in Mid Wales.

Senior managers Lorraine Simkiss and Liz Porrett were appointed to succeed Stuart Williams when he left the railway at the end of February to take up a new post in the Orkney Islands.

Lorraine is general manager commercial, taking responsibility for all income generation and human resource matters for staff and volunteers, whilst Liz is general manager for operations, engineering and developments.

Stuart said he was delighted to leave his post in safe hands and in a sound financial position after the challenges of Covid.

Trading at the railway last year was excellent, especially during December and the period between Christmas and New Year, which was exceptional.

In December, when the railway ran its popular Tinsel and Turkey trains, it was the only heritage line running. Many visitors were from abroad and holidaying in Wales while local people took the opportunity for a festive train ride before Christmas.

Lorraine said: “What a start to the year this has been! We said farewell to Stuart, thanking him for all his hard work and effort, and recognising the significant, positive impact he had made to the railway in his time here. We wished him all the very best on his new adventure in Orkney.

“For Liz and me, an exciting opportunity to lead and guide the railway amidst uncertain times.”

Formerly general manager of a Midlands theatre, Liz has been involved with the railway since volunteering with the Tracksiders group. She has helped the railway to make significant progress with Health and Safety and environmental matters.

In her new role, she will oversee an exciting project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, policy improvements, training initiatives and streamlining processes.

“These changes are undoubtedly the way to keep us progressing as an organisation,” she said. “When we want to thrive rather than just survive in these times, standing still is never an option.”

Talyllyn Railway Board chairman David Ventry added: “We are delighted to appoint Lorraine and Liz to their new roles. They will provide continuity and stability in uncertain times, and we are confident that they will successfully lead the railway forward.”

Picture caption:

Talyllyn Railway’s new general managers Lorraine Simkiss (right) and Liz Porrett.