Talyllyn Railway today (Monday) announced that general manager Chris Price will be leaving in September to take up the position of managing director of North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Appointed to his current post in August, 2013, Chris has overseen many developments on the railway in the lead up to its 150th anniversary celebrations this year.
News of his impending departure has been greeted with sadness on the railway, but also with understanding of the opportunity he has been given.
Gareth Jones, Talyllyn Railway Company’s chairman, said: “Since Chris’ appointment in 2013 he has been a force for change on the Talyllyn. In many ways he has helped us rediscover our sense of belief in ourselves and what we are capable of doing.
“We are naturally sad at the news of his impending departure, but we also understand the chance that he has been offered. In fact we take it as a great compliment to our original appointment that the North Yorkshire Moors Railway have also recognised the gifts and abilities that Chris has to offer.
“Certainly he leaves us in a stronger position than two years ago. We therefore want to wish him and his family all the best as they prepare for this new adventure, but also recognise that he leaves behind a great team of people well able to keep the Talyllyn moving forward as we search his successor.
“Chris will continue to serve as general manager in Tywyn until the end of September, helping oversee our 150th anniversary celebrations. In the meantime, we will be considering the best way forward for the railway to continue the developments that Chris has instigated and to build for the future.
“Part of this will be to consider the future management of the railway and put in place the right people to keep taking us forward. This is not something we are going to rush, as we feel it is important to make the right choices at this important time.’
Chris said it had been a very difficult decision to make. “There is so much about the Talyllyn that I love and it has been a fantastic privilege to serve as its general manager,” he explained. “However, the opportunities and challenges offered by this new role were ones that in the end I could not ignore.
“I have had the opportunity to work with some great people here and to take things forward in ways that only recently would have seemed impossible.
“The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is an iconic line, known by millions, who have either ridden on it or who have seen it on their television or in movies, and I am very humbled that the directors feel that I am the person to take on this huge responsibility.
“I am looking forward to taking up this new position, and to get to know the people there, but I also want to express my gratitude to all those who helped and supported me during my time on the Talyllyn.
“It is going to be a huge wrench to leave these folk behind, but I have every confidence that they will continue to build a great future for this wonderful railway.”
Mike Child, North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s acting chair, said: “Our managing director role is a particularly tricky one, with responsibility not only for making sure vintage engines are in good working order to transport our passengers, but also working with the hundreds of volunteers who give their time to keep us operational, ensuring that all of our passengers receive a warm welcome and excellent customer service.
“In Chris, we’ve found someone that ticks all the boxes, with great experience in our sector on another award-winning railway and we are confident that he is the right person to develop the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as a vibrant heritage tourism business, enabling us to grow and improve the visitor experience on the railway. We’re delighted to be welcoming him on board.”