TEN new trainees are all 'fired up' to learn new skills on one of Wales most iconic heritage railways.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have been successful in securing a National Lottery grant of £454,500 to support an ambitious training programme.

The scheme aims to introduce heritage skills to a more diverse audience whilst encouraging careers in the sector.

The railway intends to attract 20 trainees in order to pass on the existing heritage skills of its workforce.

Training programme manager Karen Spring said: "We are pleased to confirm that we now have this year’s intake of ten trainees in post.

"The new trainees are involved in learning the skills that help us maintain the railway and its associated infrastructure to the high standards that our customers have come to expect.

"The skills covered include horticulture, heritage joinery, heritage mechanical engineering, permanent way engineering and heritage interpretation. The scheme will work in collaboration with local partners and colleges."

Iwan Edwards, 22, from Bala, and Bradley March, 24, from Tanygrisiau, near Blaenau Ffestiniog are both working at Boston Lodge learning heritage joinery skills under the eye of Glenn Williams, Carriage Works Supervisor.

Current projects include a new Pullman observation carriage for the Welsh Highland Railway, and a smaller fifteen-inch gauge first class observation carriage for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in Cumbria.

Talitha Fenton, 21, originally from Manchester, but now living in Llan Ffestiniog, is working on heritage interpretation.

Her work will help the railway connect with customers, and enable it to tell the railway story.

“We are only four weeks into the Heritage Lottery funded training programme and already you can sense our trainees have settled in and are really enjoying their heritage training experience," Karen added.

"They are genuinely benefitting from the wealth of knowledge and expertise in which they are immersed on a day to day basis and are learning a broad range of skills.

"When you combine this with being able to attend our local colleges on a weekly day release basis, I think we have come up with a winning combination for all concerned.

"The management team and training supervisors have all been really impressed by every one of our trainees and are really enjoying observing the progress they are making and the legacy we are creating."

The railway is now seeking potential trainees for the scheme. More information is available via the FFWHR Heritage Training Programme website at www.ffwhrheritageskills.co.uk. Email Kaz Spring for more information at: hlfs4f@ffwhr.com.