MORE than 150,000 people are set to pour into Llanrwst next week as the community gears up to host one of the most important Welsh events of the year.
As a key transport partner and one of the event’s main sponsors, Transport for Wales will be pulling out all the stops to help make the week a success.
With 14 extra shuttle services each day to get people to and from the Maes now confirmed, visitors can travel with additional confidence to enjoy the event. A steam special train organised by Network Rail will kick the week off on Saturday, 3 August.
The rail industry has been facing a race against time to get ready for the Eisteddfod.
In March, Storm Gareth decimated large sections of track along the Conwy Valley line, meaning no trains have been able to run for four months.
But with just two weeks to go, the line reopened to North Llanrwst last week and in full to Blaenau Ffestiniog this week thanks to Network Rail and their contractors working almost round the clock.
Transport for Wales’ Customer Experience Director Colin Lea said: “It’s a massive relief that the line has now reopened and we’ll certainly be doing all we can with extra services every day to make the event a success.
“As a key sponsor of the event we know just how important the National Eisteddfod is to Wales and we’re delighted to be supporting it in our first year of operations.
“It’s 30 years since the Eisteddfod last came to Llanrwst and you can tell just what it means to people here.
“Investing in the Welsh language is something we are incredibly passionate about, helping our customers use all our services bilingually and helping our colleagues feel more confident speaking it.”
Transport for Wales and Network Rail will have a joint stall at the Eisteddfod staffed by Welsh speakers and learners.
Traditionally the National Eisteddfod rotates between north, mid and south Wales in the first week of August each year, showcasing Wales’ leading writers, musicians and poets. There is also an Urdd Eisteddfod every year which normally takes place during Whitsun week. This year, Transport for Wales was delighted to sponsor the Urdd Eisteddfod too.
Cllr Philip C Evans, Chair of the Conwy Valley Railway Partnership said: “We very much welcome the initiative shown by Network Rail and Transport for Wales in providing an enhanced service between Llandudno and Llanrwst to cater for the many thousands of Eisteddfodwyr who will visit the area. Full marks to all concerned in planning for this very special Welsh event.
Bill Kelly, Route Director for Network Rail, Wales and Borders, said: “For many people in Wales, and indeed further afield, the National Eisteddfod is a favourite event to visit and enjoy. We are very much looking forward to also be attending this globally-renowned event and all visitors are warmly welcomed to come along and chat with us at our joint stand with our partners, Transport for Wales.
“We have worked hard with our partners, to ensure Conwy Valley Line is reopen in time for the National Eisteddfod. We’d like to thank passengers and local community for their patience while we carried out this work.
“To celebrate the reopening of the line and mark the first day of the Eisteddfod, we will be hosting a special steam train trip with Transport for Wales Rail Services.”
James Price, CEO Transport for Wales said: “The National Eisteddfod is a key event in our country’s calendar and it’s great that not only will Transport for Wales be one of the main sponsors, but we’ll also play a fundamental role in the event itself by helping transport some of the 150,000 people to Llanrwst. We are on an exciting and ambitious journey at Transport for Wales, as we implement our £5 billion investment programme to transform the transport sector and create a transport network that the people of Wales can be proud of.
“At Transport for Wales we are aligned with the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015), one of the key objectives is to help create “a Wales of Vibrant Culture and Welsh Language” and the National Eisteddfod fully celebrates this. I’d personally like to wish all the competitors the best of luck and I’m sure it will be another great event.”
National Eisteddfod Chief Executive, Betsan Moses said, “We are delighted to have Transport for Wales on board as one of the National Eisteddfod sponsors, and thank them for being the main sponsor at this year’s Science and Technology Village. We are dependent on the help of our sponsors, and support like this is invaluable on so many levels.
“The National Eisteddfod is also committed to promoting and encouraging our visitors to use public transport when visiting the festival, so we are extremely pleased that the Conwy Valley train line has reopened in time for the Eisteddfod. We hope that many of our visitors travelling from across the region will come by train to Llanrwst North station, where a shuttle bus will take them to the Maes.”